Federal judge orders disclosure of frozen North Korean funds to Warmbier family News
© Wikimedia (Stephan)
Federal judge orders disclosure of frozen North Korean funds to Warmbier family

A federal judge entered an order on Monday allowing various banks to release confidential information to the Warmbier family about several frozen North Korean accounts to aid the family with collecting on a $500 million judgment for the 2017 death of Otto Warmbier.

North Korea was found liable in December 2018 for the torture, hostage-taking, and extrajudicial killing of Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who was convicted in North Korea of stealing a propaganda poster after being arrested before departing the country at Pyongyang International Airport. Tuesday’s order comes in response to an unopposed motion by Otto’s parents Fred and Cynthia Warmbier filed last week seeking to protect the confidential banking information that would otherwise become publicly available.

According to the motion, the Warmbiers seek to obtain information related to funds that were frozen under the North Korea, and Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators, Sanctions Regulations, which block banks from releasing assets associated with countries covered under the regulations. JPMorgan Chase Bank allegedly holds a majority of the blocked North Korean funds at around $17.5 million, while BNY Mellon and Wells Fargo each allegedly hold over $3 million in frozen assets.

Acting Director of US Intelligence, Richard Grenell, recently expressed his support for the Warmbiers in a Mother’s Day tweet stating, “I know Cindy Warmbier misses Otto all of the time, but especially today. I spoke to her earlier to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day – and tell her there are millions of Americans that love her family and support them in finding justice.”