On January 23, the Tokyo District Court announced that they have decided against the sale of the foreclosed North Korean defector embassy building and land in Chiyoda-ku to a mysterious Mongolian company after documents submitted by the buyer were found to be colour copies and could not be authenticated as official documents issued by the Mongolian government.
In October 2013, ‘Avar LLC’ was the winning bidder on the property after putting in the highest bid of 5.1 billion Yen. Suspicions were immediately raised after it was discovered that Avar was created in January with a capital investment of just 60,000 Yen and was registered to an apartment in Ulaanbaatar (the occupant of the apartment had no knowledge of the company).
Rumours swirled that the paper company was set up by the North Korean government as an indirect way to retain ownership of the property as they are prohibited from direct investment in Japan. A Mongolian newspaper later suggested that the buyer could have been the family of a retired sumo wrestler, but he denied the claims.
Due to the unclear nature of the buyer, the district court extended their decision deadline in order to decide if they were a valid buyer or not. Avar was asked to submit original documents to prove the company registration, but they submitted non-notarised colour photocopies. Avar has one week to appeal the decision before their bid is officially withdrawn.
The building first went to auction in March 2013 with a minimum bid of 2.134 billion Yen. The winning bidder was a Kagoshima-based Buddhist priest who has close ties with North Korea. He had bid 4.5 billion Yen but failed to come up with the money. As a result, he lost his 533 million Yen deposit.
The Chongryon headquarters will now go up for public auction for a third time.
Source: NHK, January 23, 2014.