According to the US, 2,734 tons of M / T Courageous were seized in Cambodia after it transferred more than $ 1.5 million worth of oil to a North Korean ship.
The United States has seized an Singapore-owned oil tanker that was sent to North Korea in violation of international sanctions, the Justice Department said.
A federal judge in New York has issued a sentencing order authorizing the U.S. to take ownership of the M / T Courageous, which is currently in Cambodia.
The ship, which has a capacity of 2,734 tons, was purchased by Singapore national Kwek Kee Seng, who remains at large, according to a statement from the Justice Department on Friday.
According to the statement, the ship is apparently being used to transport oil products to North Korean vessels and to ship Nampo directly to the North Korean port.
“Criminal charges of conspiracy to evade economic sanctions against North Korea and money laundering conspiracy, pending against the alleged owner and operator of the Courageous, Kwek Kee Seng, a Singaporean citizen who remains at large,” he said. , using the acronym of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The statement does not say why the charges against Kwek were filed more than a year after the ship was seized, but added that a federal court in New York on Friday imposed a sentence of forfeiture on the vessel. has.
North Korea is the subject of United Nations and other international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
The sanctions restrict the import of oil and other items.
The DoJ statement stated that during a period of four months between August and December 2019, the M / T Courageous illegally stopped transmitting information about its location, and during this time satellite images showed that it was more than $ 1, Transferring 5 million ounces of oil to a North Korean ship, the Saebyol.
Cambodian authorities seized a U.S. warrant on the tanker in March 2020 and have held the Courageous there ever since.
The statement said that payments to buy the Courageous and the oil with US dollars were made by unconscious US banks, in violation of US law and UN resolutions.
“Kwek and his co-conspirators abroad have sought to conceal these sanction-evading transactions by using, among others, leading companies to obscure the nature of the transactions,” the statement said.
It did not name any co-conspirators.
Relations between Washington and Pyongyang are strained, and North Korea’s foreign minister in June ruled out any talks with the US, saying such a dialogue would get us nowhere.
Negotiations between the two countries have long been halted over the international sanctions imposed by the nuclear weapons state and which North Korea must give up in exchange for their lifting.