Firms Under Fire for Helping N. Korea Evade Oil Sanctions

WASHINGTON (CN) – Accusing them of helping North Korea’s illegal ship-to-ship transfers to circumvent U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang petroleum, the United States announced penalties Friday against multiple firms and individuals in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control designated two Taiwan-based individuals, Huang Wang Ken and Chen Mei Hsiang, as North Korea-related parties and designated three corporations and one vessel as North Korea-related entities.

Two firms are based in Taiwan — Jui Pang Shipping Co. Ltd. and Jui Zong Ship Management Co. Ltd. — and one organization, Jui Cheng Shipping Company Ltd., is based in Hong Kong.

One vessel, the Shang Yuan Bao, will also be blocked from ports in the U.S. Treasury officials say the vessel was involved in two ship-to-ship transfers with sanctioned ships in last year.

“Between April and May 2018, Huang Wang Ken, the CEO and largest shareholder in Jui Pang, a Taiwan marine cargo handling company, worked with several other individuals to use the Panama-flagged vessel Shang Yuan Bao to transport 1.7 million liters of petroleum products to the UN- and U.S.-designated North Korea-flagged vessel Paek Ma through an STS transfer,” the agency said in a statement, abbreviating the term ship-to-ship. “OFAC assesses that the persons who owned and controlled the Shang Yuan Bao at the time of the petroleum transfers are ultimately responsible for the petroleum products that were illicitly transferred to the North Korean vessels and ultimately delivered to North Korean territory.”

As a result of the action, all property and interests in the property by the individuals that are in the U.S. must be blocked and reported to the Office of Foreign Asset Control. Individuals who engage in transactions with the individuals and entities are also subject to possible sanctions, according to the release.

“The United States acknowledges and is grateful for Taiwan’s continued efforts to combat the DPRK efforts to evade sanctions and to obtain resources for its WMD and missile programs,” the release states, using abbreviations for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and weapons of mass destruction.

Treasury Under Secretary Sigal Mandelker said in a statement Friday the U.S. and United Nations would continue to implement previously enforced sanctions against North Korea and ship-to-ship transfers.

“Shipping companies trading with North Korea are exposing themselves to significant sanctions risk, despite the deceptive practices they try to employ,” Mandelker said in a statement Friday.

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