Malaysia central bank to support agencies probing flow of funds to North Korea

A sign outside the Malaysia-Korea Partners (MKP) Holdings headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia March 22, 2017. REUTERS/James Pearson

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia’s central bank said on Thursday it will support law enforcement agencies investigating the possible flow of funds to North Korea, after Reuters reported the North Korean head of a Malaysian firm had for years sent money to Pyongyang’s leadership.

Reuters on Monday cited a North Korean defector as saying that Han Hun Il, the founding chief executive of Malaysia Korea Partners (MKP), had for two decades funneled funds to the central committee of Pyongyang’s ruling Workers’ Party.

MKP is also under investigation by the United Nations for the possible violation of sanctions on North Korea.

Malaysia’s deputy home minister had said in response that the reports could damage Kuala Lumpur’s reputation as a financial hub and called on the central bank to investigate the alleged transfer of funds to North Korea.

“Should there be any offence relating to the laws administered by Bank Negara Malaysia, an investigation will be conducted,” the central bank said in its statement Thursday.

Malaysia’s historically close ties with North Korea have come under scrutiny following the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s ruler.

Reuters reported in February that North Korea’s spy agency was running an arms export operation out of Malaysia.

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Michael Perry