SEOUL, Oct. 22 (UPI) — A well-connected Hong Kong businessman who was arrested in China in early October was deeply involved with North Korea energy development projects.
Sam Pa, 57, who was arrested Oct. 8 after being suspected of “serious disciplinary offenses” by Chinese authorities in a Beijing hotel, is known for cutting multibillion-dollar deals that have led to Chinese oil investments in Africa, The Financial Times reported.
Pa was arrested in connection to his dealings with Su Shulin, a former chief at Sinopec, the state-owned oil corporation. Su, currently the governor of China’s bustling Fujian province, is at the center of a corruption investigation.
Pa, who had seven aliases, also was involved in illicit North Korea deals, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported. His arrest could have an adverse effect on various development projects.
Pa, the mastermind behind the Queensway group of Hong Kong-based companies, had consented to building a series of high-rise buildings in Pyongyang in 2006. The project, dubbed “KKG Avenue” was Pa’s point of entry into the isolated state, and the project has been connected to Room or Office 39, the branch of Kim Jong Un‘s regime that handles the country’s illicit financial activities.
China Sonangol, a state-owned joint venture between Angola and Beijing, where Pa served as adviser, also was involved in oil exploration projects in North Korea. Chinese state media reported Pa also visited Pyongyang in April 2013 to discuss the two-stage construction of power plants in Huichon, North Korea.
Room 39 is a crucial source of foreign currency for the Kim regime, but in early 2015 a mid-level Pyongyang diplomat in Hong Kong in charge of handling North Korea’s slush funds defected with his family, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported.
North Korea sends its most loyal staff abroad, but Seoul’s spy agency said Tuesday 20 North Korean officials have defected to the South in 2015.