Report says UK shell companies used to disguise N Korean shipping sanctions violations

An investigation by RUSI (the Royal United Services Institute) and The Times suggests that UK shell companies are used to disguise a network of commercial cargo vessels exporting North Korean coal in violation of UN and EU sanctions.

The investigation found that in January 2019, a British-owned vessel named the Lucky Star was captured with satellite and aerial photography loading coal in Nampo, a North Korean port, having deactivated its tracking system. The vessel and 3 other ships (Asia Bridge, Xin Guang Hai, and Surplus Ocean 1) are owned by UK front companies, registered at ‘unit’ addresses in London. Lucky’s Star’s director is a Burmese national, the owners and operators are based in China. Hugh Griffiths, the former co-ordinator of the UN panel of experts on N Korea,  criticised the British authorities’ “very limited legislative function, remit or resources” to oversee such companies domiciled in the UK.

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About Michael O'Kane

Michael O'Kane

Michael was called to the Bar in 1992 and prior to joining Peters & Peters was a senior specialist prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service Headquarters (CPS). He was a key member of a small specialist unit responsible for the prosecution of serious and high-profile fraud, terrorist,...

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