N. Korea becomes observer to Asian anti-money laundering body

SEOUL, July 18 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has been accepted as an observer to the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), an international body combating money laundering and terrorism-related financing, a Seoul official said Friday.

A day earlier, the APG approved North Korea's application to become an observer at its plenary meeting held in Macao, according to the official.

North Korea should verify its sincerity that it will abide by international rules to fight money laundering and terrorism-related financing for the next three years to become a full-fledged member of the international organization.

As member states of the APG have doubts about North Korea's intention to join it, they have decided to discuss whether Pyongyang is eligible to become a full member after the three-year probation, he added. North Korea will be under scrutiny for its commitment during the process.

Some raised questions about North Korea's intention, saying that it may make attempts to ease some of international economic sanctions imposed on the North by showing the international community that it is making efforts to combat illegal financing.

The Seoul official said that it would not be easy for North Korea to become a full member of the APG.

"It remains to be seen whether North Korea could become a full member as it would be not easy for it to fully comply with international standards," said the official, asking not to be named.

Last year, North Kore applied to become an observer to the APG, but its offer was rejected as Pyongyang said it cannot fully accept the entry conditions, under which an applicant country should abide by relevant United Nations covenants and resolutions.

North Korea is under U.N. sanctions as it has been in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions banning any ballistic missile and nuclear tests.

The APG, established in 1997, consists of 41 member states and is a regional group in the Asia-Pacific regions under the Financial Action Task Force, which sets standards in anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing policy.

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