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After the revelations of North Korean espionage activities in Malaysia, latest findings show the regime has been hiding behind corporations it set up here to avoid international sanctions.

According to a source, several corporations have been set up by North Koreans and Malaysians which were supposedly commercial ventures but in reality, were instruments to further North Korea's interests.

"These companies were set up to conduct businesses to generate income to support their regime. Their activities include money laundering and selling goods which are included in the Strategic Trade Act."

The source said this was not a new activity but had been detected by Malaysia's surveillance radar since 2005.

Each time the companies attempted to carry out a transaction, the police would foil their efforts through sanctions imposed by the United Nations (UN).

"That is why they have failed to get any returns or generate profit from their businesses. Now, they have shut down their companies and started new ones with locals, either as directors or shareholders," said the source.

The UN has urged member countries to be cautious of North Korean diplomats as there was proof they were involved in commercial activities which were possibly aimed at providing financial assistance to illegal networks.

According to the report, despite the sanctions, Pyongyang had agents who were trained and experienced in carrying out missions to transfer money, goods and people, including possibly arms and forbidden goods, undetected across borders.

The UN had imposed a sanction on Pyongyang to prevent North Korea from continuing its nuclear and guided missile programme which could affect global security and peace.

According to the source, a tactic used by the North Korean agents to set up companies in Malaysia was through influential individuals.

Such strategy, the source noted, would usually get the approval of the country's leadership with the embassy or its diplomats supplying the names of unsuspecting individuals and introducing them to their agents to set up a company.

He said the locals would unwittingly become informants to the North Koreans and pave the way for them to conduct their activities in Malaysia.

Bernama was also able to track down several North Korean companies and interview locals who have worked with North Korean nationals in setting up companies here.

One such person was Umno Veterans Club secretary-general Mustapha Ya'akub who said he had set up three companies with a North Korean national named Kim Chang-hyok for several years before quitting and shutting down all the companies because they incurred losses.

"We started the first company in 2005, and it was closed down because there were no returns, and in the end, all three companies were shut down," he said, adding that besides Kim, there was another local shareholder and director in the company.

The first collaboration involved the setting up of International Global System (M) (IGS) in 2005 and after it was closed down in 2010, it was replaced by International Golden Services Sdn Bhd in 2012 and later, Adnet International (M) Sdn Bhd was set up in 2015 and closed down last year.

The IGS was involved in selling battlefield radios from North Korea, a military product sanctioned by UN.

Mustapha said the collaborations were finally terminated when he received several warnings from Malaysian authorities not to be involved in any sort of suspicious business dealings with North Korea.

- Bernama

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