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Exclusive: Despite Sanctions, UN Let North Korea Foreign Trade Bank Withdraw EUR 4 Million from Sputnik Bank

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, February 21 – In the face of North Korea sanctions, the UN in December 2017 used the sanctioned Foreign Trade Bank and Russia's Sputnik Bank to transfer EUR 3,974,920.62 into the country, documents obtained by Inner City Press show. A letter from Sputnik Bank states that "unauthorized person (I.V. Tonkih) led  negotiations with Korean party on interbank correspondent relationship." Photos here. Nevertheless, then-chairman of the UN Security Council's 1718 / North Korea sanctions committee Sebastiano Cardi of Italy informed Sputnik Bank to release the nearly $4 million to the Foreign Trade Bank - the very entity for dealing with Latvia's ABLV Bank has been sanctioned by the United States. Previously, Cardi by letter had, according to UN Resient Coordinator Tapan Mishra, neglected to "make clear reference to the need for cash withdrawal." The Treasurer of the UN Development Program Paul Gravanese then asked Cardi for wider authorization for FTB to withdraw funds.  The 1718 Committee, now chaired by Netherlands' Ambassador, is meeting on February 21. Earlier this month when Inner City Press asked if the Committee's rulings on request for exemptions, and the underlying requests themselves, are placed on the Committee's website or otherwise made public. The answer was and is no.  Inner City Press will have more on this exclusive story. Media paid to cover the UN too often let it off the hook, on issues from North Korea to UN corruption to most recently automatic weapons. The UN has been the venue for bribes paid from Macau based operative Ng Lap Seng and now Patrick Ho of the China Energy Fund Committee - but on February 13 in the same basement the North Korea sanctions committee meets in the UN allowed an Indonesia based weapons company to advertise not only machine guns and drones but even tanks inside the UN. Periscope video here. But when the Japanese media paid to cover the UN belatedly chime in on gun control, like Sankei Shimbun's Mayu Uetsuka here, they ignored the UN's total failure in even advertising guns after the Florida shooting. They could have covered it, and still could; their Mr Tatsuya Kato in South Korea, whom Inner City Press supported here and here, and also in Sankei, proves there is something to support on a free Press basis. But. As the North Korea UN sanctions "experts" report continues to be cherry picked further and further down the food chain, now that North Korea paid its 2017 UN dues by means of a swap is also ignored, like the recent report focused on coal, pointing the finger at Vietnam, Russia, China, Vietnam and South Korea. Omitted, apparently intentionally, are violations by Japanese companies, like Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, as Inner City Press has reported. It is facts chucked or thrown, rather than fact checked. How far will today's UN go to placate some countries, while ignoring others and restricting the Press? On January 26 UN "global communications" chief Alison Smale flew to Charleston, South Carolina for a photo op and UNTV video with China's Xiamen Airlines for having painting the UN's "SDGs" logo on the side of an airplane. This without having answered Press questions about her Department of Public Information's malfeasance with resources allocated by the General Assembly for Kiswahili and about the lack under her "leadership" of any content neutral UN media access rules. Afterward, when Inner City Press asked for the mp4 video of her South Carolina junket - Inner City Press is informed that the plane she celebrated could not in fact fly - it was told to "Ask UN Webcast," which is under Smale. They were asked - and have not given the video. Nor has Smale offered any response to a detailed petition two weeks ago, while re-tweeting her former employer the NYT and current boss Antonio Guterres. But who is making who look bad? And how can a former NYT editor have no content neutral media access rules, and no answers? As she restricts Inner City Press from its UN reporting on Cameroon, Myanmar, Kenya, Yemen and elsewhere? We'll have more on this. While any country would try to get the UN to promote its airline, if the UN would do it, Smale is the UN official who responsible for Inner City Press being restricted and evicted as it reports on the UN bribery scandal of Patrick Ho and China Energy Fund Committee. Smale hasn't even deigned to answer petitions in this regard, in September (she said she recognized the need for the "courtesy" of a response, never given) and in January -- too busy flying to South Carolina to promote an airline:

Today's UN of Antonio Guterres, who just met with ICC indictee Omar al Bashir, and his Deputy Amina J. Mohammed who has refused Press questions on her rosewood signatures and now the refoulement of 47 people to Cameroon from "her" Nigeria, has become a place of corruption and censorship. On January 30 as Inner City Press sought to complete its reporting for the day on Guterres' Bashir meeting and Mohammed's Cameroon no-answer, it had a problem. It was invited to the month's UN Security Council president's end of presidency reception, 6:30 to 8:30 - but with its accreditation reduced by censorship, it could not get back into the UN after 7 pm, to the already delayed UN video. It ran to at least enter the reception - but the elevator led to a jammed packed third floor, diplomats lined up to shake the outgoing UNSC president's hand. Inner City Press turn to turn tail back to the UN, passing on its way favored, pro-UN correspondents under no such restriction. Periscope here. Inner City Press has written about this to the head of the UN Department of Public Information Alison Smale, in Sepember 2017 - no answer but a new threat - and this month, when Smale's DPI it handing out full access passes to no-show state media. No answer at all: pure censorship, for corruption. Smale's DPI diverted funds allocated for Kiswahili, her staff say, now saying they are targeted for retaliation. This is today's UN. Amid UN bribery scandals, failures in countries from Cameroon to Yemen and declining transparency, today's UN does not even pretend to have content neutral rules about which media get full access and which are confined to minders or escorts to cover the General Assembly.

Inner City Press, which while it pursue the story of Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng's bribery of President of the General Assembly John Ashe was evicted by the UN Department of Public Information from its office, is STILL confined to minders as it pursues the new UN bribery scandal, of Patrick Ho and Cheikh Gadio allegedly bribing President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa, and Chad's Idriss Deby, for CEFC China Energy.

Last week Inner City Press asked UN DPI where it is on the list to be restored to (its) office, and regain full office - and was told it is not even on the list, there is no public list, the UN can exclude, permanently, whomever it wants. This is censorship.


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