N. Korea Sanctions Drive $1.2M Forfeiture Action

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) – The U.S. government brought a federal forfeiture action Monday against a Taiwan company that it accuses of having tried to launder $1.2 million for North Korea.

Filed in the Eastern District of New York, the complaint says that the attempted transfer occurred on June 2, 2017 — just a day after the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control included Joint Stock Independent Petroleum Company on a list of entities prohibited from using the U.S. financial system.

Otherwise known as IPC, the oil company is a subsidiary of Rosneft, the world’s largest publicly traded petroleum outfit. Rosneft’s largest shareholder is the Russian government.

In their press release on the designation, regulators here said that IPC had signed a contract to provide oil to North Korea and reportedly “shipped over $1 million worth of petroleum products to North Korea.”

Citibank intervened when Chinese national Yung Yan Tsan attempted to wire $1.2 million to IPC from his business, Kingly Won.

When Tsang voluntarily sat for an interview with representatives from OFAC in September of that year, the complaint says he admitted to knowledge of U.S. sanctions against North Korea but “was not aware of any connection between IPC and North Korea.”

Tsang claimed that the wire transfer was intended to finance fuel shipments to China, but prosecutors say the documents he provided showed that the proposed oil shipment would be delivered via the Khasan railway, which links Russia to North Korea over the Tumen River.

“As such, Tsang was or should have been aware that the petroleum products that were to be purchased with the defendant funds were destined for North Korea,” the complaint states.

In August 2017, the federal government attempted to claim $11 in civil forfeitures from two companies that allegedly laundered money for North Korean bank.

Kingly Won International meanwhile was one of 27 shipping and trading companies that the U.S. Treasury Department flagged for sanctions on Feb. 23, 2018, over their dealings with North Korea.

“These complaints show our determination to stop North Korean sanctioned banks and their foreign financial facilitators from aiding North Korea in illegally accessing the United States financial system to obtain goods and services in the global market place,” U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips said in a statement announcing the 2017 forfeitures.

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