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UN Delayed Release of N Korea Statement, No Reforms As UNFCU Solicits N Korean & UNA-USA Funds

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive follow up

UNITED NATIONS, May 16 – Long after the UN Security Council had approved a Press Statement condemning North Korea's last two launches, on May 15 the UN Spokesperson's Office had not sent it out, and when asked didn't know about it. After Inner City Press and others including the Free UN Coalition for Access complained, the UN Spokesman belated sent it out. To find out why, and perhaps avoid the delay in the future, on May 16 Inner City Press on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: This one should be right in your wheelhouse.  I just want…

Spokesman:  You don't know what's in my wheelhouse.

Inner City Press:  Okay.  Let's see.  Yesterday, when the press statement came out condemning the missile launch by the… by the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea], there seemed to be a big gap between it being announced to some or by some Security Council members and by your office.  So, I just… rather than… gotcha, I just want to know, does your office have monthly meetings with incoming Presidents of the Council…?

Spokesman:  Indeed.

Inner City Press: and, if so, is it possible to let… have them let you know when something's under silence so there's not a…?

Spokesman:  They do… no, they… the Council is master of its own work.  The way it functions is that, once a Council statement has been approved, we can only put it out once we receive it from the Security Council Affairs Division.  That's the procedure, to make sure that there's… as little goes wrong as possible, and that's the procedure we followed.  Whatever is announced by Member States on Twitter or Facebook or whatever is beyond my control.

Inner City Press:   But, is there a way… so what was the gap between… between Uruguay sending it to… to… to Security Council Affairs and your office sending it to the journalists here?

Spokesman:  I don't know what the gap was.

Inner City Press/FUNCA:  Can you [inaudible]…? shorten it

Spokesman:  What I… we try to work as quickly as possible.  What I do know is, as soon as we get it from Security Council Affairs, we share it.  Thank you.

Inner City Press: Was that in your wheelhouse?

Spokesman:  That's in my wheelhouse.  You were right.   Thank you,

   The UN Federal Credit Union, regulated by the US National Credit Union Administration, openly solicits the business of both North Korean employees of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's mission to the UN and the members of the UN Association of the USA (UNA-USA), amid questions of immunity and a previous UNFCU settlement for sanctions violations.

 UNFCU's website lists under “Missions to the UN in New York eligible to join UNFCU” that of “North Korea (DPRK).” Now, after the latest North Korean launch, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on May 14 told ABC's This Week that the screws will be tightened on North Korea, to isolate them. Then on May 15, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he "condemns the launch of another ballistic missile by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). This action is in violation of Security Council resolutions and a threat to peace and security in the region. The Secretary-General calls on the DPRK to ensure full compliance with its international obligations and return to the path of denuclearization." Meanwhile UNFCU continues soliciting funds of North Korea, and of UN Foundation's UNA-USA members (Guterres met with UNF's board just before he went on the road for more than a week.) Inner City Press' story has been picked up, with credit, here. Watch this site.

Inner City Press asked UNFCU's Senior Manager of Media Relations Elisabeth Philippe questions including “why some UN member states' missions to the UN are eligible to join UNFCU, including the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and others are not, why members of UNA-USA became eligible to join UNFCU, what regulatory filings in any UNFCU made for this change in field of membership, and any restrictions on the use of these UNA-USA members' funds, and what services UNFCU offers to UN agencies and country teams, in which countries, and if there are any restrictions or safeguards.”

  On deeming the North Korean mission and all of its employees eligible, UNFCU's Ms. Philippe told Inner City Press, “The employees of any mission to the United Nations based in New York are eligible to apply for UNFCU membership. The employees of all missions are eligible to join once their mission has submitted an application and been approved.” The website says the mission itself can join UNFCU. On May 10, Inner City Press asked the chairman of the UN Security Council's North Korea Sanctions Committee Sebastiano Cardi about North Korea's embassy in Berlin renting out space as a hostel, video here. What safeguards does UNFCU, with UNA-USA's members in its field of membership, have?

  On UNFCU expanding its field of membership to including anyone who joins UNA-USA, Ms. Philippe told Inner City Press, “UNA-USA is the largest UN advocacy organization in the United States. UNFCU is a financial organization providing retail banking for the UN community. Members of UNA-USA, who are US citizens or permanent residents of the US, are eligible to become members of UNFCU. In December 2013, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the US regulatory body which oversees US federal credit unions, approved the expansion of UNFCU membership to include UNA-USA based on a shared mission and values in support of the United Nations. UNA-USA members who become members of UNFCU are eligible for the full suite of products and services available to UNFCU’s field of membership.”

  But what is in the “full suit of products and services” available from UNFCU? The US Office of Financial Asset Control or OFAC settled charges against UNFCU for, in connection with Mission employees, violating sanctions, see here. And Inner City Press' third question, about precisely what services “UNFCU offers to UN agencies and country teams” - including for example in North Korea - remained at publication time unanswered. Now this: "As a member-owned financial institution that serves the UN community globally, UNFCU provides bank account services to UN/agency staff, and consultants subject to payroll requirements of the various UN agencies and subject to the rules and regulations governing all US Financial Institutions. Accounts are maintained in US dollars and are protected by federal share insurance through the National Credit Union Administration. UNFCU complies with US regulations, including those governing US economic sanctions." But why then did UNFCU settle charges of sanctions violations? We'll have more on this. Inner City Press previously exclusively reported for example that "Sudanese nationals working for the UN have had part of their salaries paid into UN Federal Credit Union accounts, in U.S. dollars. Then they were told that these dollar accounts were frozen, and could only be transferred to the Bank of Khartoum." Watch this site.


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