Black market nation: North Korea uses false flag vessels for illegal trade

by WorldTribune Staff, March 1, 2018

The Kim Jong-Un regime is evading international sanctions by using ships which change names and take on new flags to export and import goods, a UN report said.

The North Korean vessel Jin Teng has twice changed its name since landing on the U.S. sanctions list in March 2016.

“North Korea earned almost $200 million in the first nine months of last year from banned commodity exports, providing crucial foreign currency for the isolated regime,” according to a confidential UN report, portions of which were seen by Bloomberg News.

New companies are also created to hide ownership of the vessels, the UN report said.

The UN study noted that North Korea continues to ship coal to ports in Russia, China, South Korea, and Vietnam. The UN Security Council banned North Korea from exporting coal last August.

Two ships, the Jin Teng and the Jin Tai 7, were cited as an example of the name changing tactic.

The Jin Teng, sanctioned by the U.S. in March 2016, became the Shen Da 8 and then the Hang Yu 1 last November, Bloomberg News reported, citing Kharon, a Los Angeles-based firm that identifies sanctions risks for banks and companies.

The Jin Tai 7, also sanctioned by the U.S. in March 2016, became the Sheng Da 6 in May 2016 and the Bothwin 7 last November, Kharon said.

Both ships remain on the U.S. sanctions list.

According to Kharon, the Bothwin 7 visited the Chinese port of Lianyungang in January, the same month that the Hang Yu 1 stopped at the port of Ningbo-Zhoushan, also in China.

The ships were once part of a Pyongyang fleet owned by Ocean Maritime Management, which is sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department and the UN, according to Kharon.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week announced new sanctions against 27 North Korean entities and 28 vessels.

Mnuchin said the sanctions would “significantly hinder North Korea’s ability to conduct evasive maritime activities that facilitate illicit coal and fuel transports, and limit the regime’s ability to ship goods through international waters.”

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