Jane VaynmanRussia Wants a BDA Money Permission Slip

Not to be outdone in having a say in the Banco Delta Asia issue, a senior Russian official, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov, said today that Russian banks would be able to assist in the transfer of that scary $25 million NK money if they received written guarantees from the U.S.:

“There is a chance we could use our facilities, if the U.S. side provides a written guarantee that they will not introduce any sanctions against our financial institutions, we may be in a position to look at the possible transfer of these funds to a Russian bank where the North Korean government has an account,” Alexander Losyukov said.

The U.S. has already approached Russia (along with just about anybody else it seems) on the money transfer. However, Losyukov, who is Russia’s chief negotiator to the 6-party talks, has been talking about the need for written guarantees from the U.S. at least since March. These recent statements sound like Russia needing to stay involved in the issue, rather than any actual progress being made.

So here is my question: Is it that the US Treasury can’t or won’t give the one bank that takes this money already a written get out of jail free card? If there is some legal reason that such a guarantee cannot be done, then this is a very convenient way for Russian or other country representatives to appear cooperative by continuing to say that they’d like to help, but you know, it’s not working out.

Comments

  1. CKR (History)

    This is consistent with what Selig Harrison said when he visited here a month or so ago: Although the US (via the Treasury Department) has given BDA the go-ahead, it has continued to threaten other banks that might be involved in the transfer.

    No doubt the Russians have been watching domestic US politics and can see the similarity to the “support our troops” attack on the Democrats to anything they might do here. If they help transfer the money, the Bushies have a free “helping the terrorists” card to play against the Russians, just as they continue to bludgeon the Democrats with “not supporting the troops.”

    No wonder the Russians want some assurance ahead of time.

  2. China Hand (History)

    To clear up the question of what it takes to rescind a Patriot Act Section 311 final rule, I contacted the Treasury Department and blogged about it (http://chinamatters.blogspot.com/2007/06/patriot-act-section-311-moves-to.html). Short story: the final rule can be lifted unilaterally by the Treasury Department at its sole discretion. What’s holding up the BDA money isn’t US law; it’s something else.

  3. Andy (History)

    It’s a strange situation. One would think the North Koreans could, if nothing else, withdraw the money as cash, gold or whatever liquid asset available and easily transfer it anywhere they wished, even if electronic transfer was closed to them.

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