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North Korea's Kim Jong Un has a fleet of ghost ships trying to sanction



In April 2018, a $ 3 million ship smashed coal into Indonesian waters with its identification transmitter off and its flag hidden from view.

Indonesia's navy was back on a lead, which identified itself as the "show honest" from Sierra Leone. When the inspectors boarded, the two dozen crew members and registration documents indicating another country of origin found North Korea.

The interdiction described in a March 5 report from UN sanctions monitors is part of a worrying increase in coal exports from hermit exports that violate UN sanctions and help fund Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program. said the monitors.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is likely to seek Moscow's help to ease these sanctions on Thursday as he holds his first summit with President Vladimir Putin in Russia's Pacific town of Vladivostok.

Pyongyang is growing stronger in its sanctions, partly because many countries ̵

1; and their banks, insurance companies and merchants – have long failed to enforce the measures that North Korean experts said. And some sanction specialists worry that mixed Trump administration signals may further undermine global enforcement.

"It's anarchy," said Hugh Griffiths, the outgoing coordinator of the UN monitors, in an interview. "These massive gaps in maritime and financial governance will provide President Kim with a financial boost for several months, if not years to come."

While Washington has traditionally led the global politicization of UN and US sanctions, President Trump's latest overtures Kim – and his last month's order to impose new sanctions on the Treasury in North Korea – impose a huge sense of uncertainty in the global community, "said Elizabeth Rosenberg, a Finance Minister for sanctions from 2009 to 2013." They do not know if the sanctions will be there the next day. "

The White House and Treasury declined to comment. Trump this month said he did not want to increase US sanctions "because of my relationship with Kim Jong Un" and because he believed "something very important will happen" in his core negotiations with Kim.

North Korea is carrying out its illegal trade in a fleet of ghost ships painting false names on their hulls, stealing identification numbers from other vessels and carrying out their trade by ship to sea shipping to avoid curious eyes in ports.

In the case of Wise Honest, a globe-crossing North Korean sold the shipment by holding meetings at the Pyongyang Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia – and then paying an Indonesian broker via bank transfers organized by JPMorgan Chase according to bank documents and other evidence collected by the monitors.

While the interception of Wise Honest originally resembled a victory for enforcement, Indonesia has recently threatened UN's surveillance instructions to seize the coal, all because it was transferred to another vessel that immediately sailed to Malaysia. said Griffiths. He called this a "clear violation" of sanctions and said he had asked Malaysia to investigate. Indonesian and Malaysian officials did not respond promptly to requests for comments.

Many countries agree that a nuclear energy North Korea poses a serious threat to global security. But enforcement of the sanctions requires more time and money than many are willing to use, Griffiths said.

Stopping Pyongyang's illegal trade would be keeping a close eye on North Korea's embassies and expelling diplomats facilitating sanctions, he said.

It will also require countries to strengthen the regulation of insurance companies, banks and commodity traders to ensure they sharpen the shipments and transactions they support, the report sharpened.

Pyongyang's trading partners include criminal networks that deliberately blindly observe sanctions legislation, Griffiths said. "If they see North Korean coal is cheaper to buy because it is illegal, there is an increased profit margin," he said. Other traders inadvertently blunder into the transactions because they are not investigating their offers closely enough, Griffiths said. In addition to coal exports, illegal oil imports to North Korea are also rising.

Most of the ships dealing with Pyongyang sail under a "flag of convenience," meaning they are registered in countries such as Panama, Togo and Dominica, to provide some oversight. But ships and companies in the more developed countries have also been suspected.

At the end of March, the Treasury and state departments added two oil tankers from South Korea and Singapore to a ship's watch list "who believed to have engaged in" illegal trade in North Korea. And the UN monitors found out that a South Korean company was the intended recipient of Wise Honest coal.

Singaporean officials said they were investigating the tanker from their country and taking their obligations to enforce sanctions "very seriously". South Korea said it would "conduct a thorough investigation" on possible sanctions violations.

UN Security Council has banned North Korean coal exports – the country's largest source of external revenue – in August 2017, after Pyongyang carried out several missile types. Shortly afterwards, the Security Council banned all transport from ships to ships with North Korean vessels and severely restricted North Korea's oil imports, partly to deprive its military fuel.

Griffiths and his team of seven are the main compliance monitor working out what Griffiths calls an "unreleased place" near the UN headquarters in New York – not published after cyber attacks against the monitors raised concerns about their security.

The team reviews photos and satellite images – some supplied by the United States, Japan South Korea and the UK – and bombard Pyongyang's trading partners with emails that require them to explain their activity.

"We have no doom power," said Griffiths, a British who has used his career to investigate international crime for the United Nations, European Union and American bodies. And the group is severely understaffed for the size of the task, he said, with the same number of screens as a UN team investigating the Somalia sanctions, despite having five times as many measures to track.

Still, Griffith's team has some teeth: It can recommend that the Security Council impose penalties on companies and ships that violate their ability to act.

Some of the explanations that monitors receive are removed. After the Shang Yuan Bao oil tanker was photographed transferring cargo through tubing to a North Korean vessel in May 2018, Griffiths contacted a Taiwan-based ship management company. According to the report, the company replied that it had used the tubing to deliver drinking water to the North Korean ship, "based on humanitarian aid."

As the ship's hoses are normally used for oil, the explanation was "not credible," Griffiths said. "Anyone who has tried to drink the kerosene will tell you that you are automatically retching," he said.

For the show honest, a North Korean man named Jong Song Ho was central to the deal, the monitors said. At the end of 2017, he turned to a meeting in North Korea's Embassy in Jakarta, where North Korean diplomats introduced him to an Indonesian merchant named Hamid Ali.

Jong presented a business card that introduced himself as chairman of the Jinmyong Trading Group and Jinmyong Joint Bank in Pyongyang – the last US hit with sanctions in 2017.

In early 2018, Ali and Jong met again in Jakarta and discussed a "transhipment of coal", Ali told the monitors according to the report. Jong then arranged to send $ 760,000 to Ali via a company called Huitong Minerals, the report said. JPMorgan Chase helped ease this payment by acting as the correspondent bank in transfers, according to bank transfer records obtained by the monitors.

Part of this money was a commission payment to help arrange the sale of Wise Honest cool, Griffiths said.

Ali did not respond to Washington Post's comments comments. Jong and Huitong Minerals could not be reached for comments.

On March 11, 2018, a United States State captured a picture of the Wise Honest that was loaded with coal in a port of Nampo, North Korea.

Following Indonesia's detention The ship in April 2018, officials said that a South Korean company, Enermax Korea, was the "final destination / recipient" of the coal, according to the report.

Enermax told the monitors that "it simply received an offer of Indonesia origin coal from a person who seemed to be a local broker in Indonesia." Enermax did not respond to Posten's requests for comments.

Some ships continue to act even after the Security Council has sanctioned them. In March 2018, the United Nations imposed sanctions on a ship registered in Dominica, called Yuk Tung, along with the Asian company that managed it after the vessel had traded in a North Korean ship. This punishment forbade Yuk Tung from all ports around the world and effectively banned other ships from dealing with it.

To continue operating in the East China Sea, Yuk Tung painted a new name and a stolen identification number on its aft and falsely transferred the stolen number. Meanwhile, the legitimate owner of this ID was rooted in Guinea Bay, more than 7,000 miles away, according to the monitors.

These tactics enabled Yuk Tung to be masquerade as Maika and received $ 5.7 million in October from a Singapore tanker controlled by one of the region's largest retailers, Hin Leong Trading, Griffiths said. A UN member state told Griffith's team who believed that kerosene was destined for North Korea.

The screen said Hin Leong Trading, founded by Singapore billionaire Lim Oon Kuin, collaborated with their investigation and appeared to be an "ignorant party" for an illegal transaction, but Griffiths said the company did not do everything to grow their trading partners.

"We must continue to strive to improve our procedures and operations to ensure that sanctions are never broken," says a Hin Leong spokesman via email.

A British insurer and banks from the US and Singapore were also involved in the deal, the monitors said, and fell to mention them.


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