In his dealings on behalf of North Korea since the late 1970s, Colin McAskill had experienced highs – first earning the isolated regime’s trust by delivering a couple of fancy speedboats for the use of then-successor-in-waiting Kim Jong Il.
And he’d experienced lows, none lower than the 1987 failure of a European debt restructuring scheme he’d undertaken for Pyongyang.
If it wasn’t metaphorically all gold, nevertheless McAskill had been in the presence of piles of real gold for more than a decade while overseeing the regime’s London bullion business.
“Bullion shipments of one ton each, of 999.999 purity, started in January 1983 and continued without incident or default until November 1993,” he says.
But in 1993, during one of the multiple crises that have erupted over the decades regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, the United States developed a punitive interest in Pyongyang’s income from bullion sales.