US seizes tanker used to transfer illicit oil products

13:44, 31 July 2021
US seizes tanker used to transfer illicit oil products

The United States has seized the oil tanker that was used to transfer petroleum products to North Korea violating international sanctions, the Justice Department said.

A New York federal court entered a judgement of forfeiture concerning the M/T Courageous authorizing the US to become owner of the vessel, which is now in Cambodia.

The ship, which could contain 2,734 tonnes of goods, was bought by Singaporean Kwek Kee Sang, who still remains at large, according to a Justice Department report on Friday. The vessel was reportedly used as for delivering oil products to North Korean ships as for direct shipment to the North Korean port of Nampo.

“Criminal charges of conspiracy to evade economic sanctions on the DPRK and money laundering conspiracy are pending against the alleged owner and operator of the Courageous, Kwek Kee Seng, a Singaporean national who remains at large,” the statement said.

North Korea is being vigilantly watched by the UN due to Korea’s ballistic missile programmes and alleged possession of nuclear weapons. The sanctions imposed on North Korea, mostly, include massive oil import restrictions.

The Department of Justice’s statement charged that in a period of between August and December 2019 the M/T Courageous illicitly ceased providing the information of its whereabouts and during this time the footage from satellites exposed the ship that had been delivering more than $1,5 million worth of oil to North Korean ship, the Saebyol.

Cambodian authorities seized the tanker in March 2020 by the US request and have held the Courageous since there.

The statement also says:

“Kwek and his co-conspirators overseas sought to conceal these sanctions-evading transactions by, among other things, using front companies to disguise the nature of the transactions.”