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Thu Apr 25, 2019, 09:48 AM

Kim Jong Un has a fleet of ghost ships sneaking around the high seas to beat sanctions

David Fahrenthold Retweeted

North Korea conducts its illicit trading w/fleet o/ghost ships that paint false names on their hulls, steal identification numbers from other vessels & execute trades via ship-2-ship transfers at sea, 2 avoid prying eyes at ports. By ⁦@JeanneWhalen⁩



Business
Kim Jong Un has a fleet of ghost ships sneaking around the high seas to beat sanctions

By Jeanne Whalen, Reporter covering business around the world
April 24 at 7:09 PM

In April 2018, a ship carrying $3 million worth of coal slipped into Indonesian waters with its identification transmitter switched off and its flag hidden from view. ... Acting on a tip, Indonesia's navy detained the vessel, which identified itself as the "Wise Honest" from Sierra Leone. When inspectors went aboard, they found two dozen crew members and registration documents indicating a different country of origin -- North Korea. ... The interdiction, detailed in a March 5 report by U.N. sanctions monitors, is part of a worrying rise in coal exports from the hermit kingdom -- exports that violate U.N. sanctions and help finance Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, the monitors said.
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North Korea conducts its illicit trading with a fleet of ghost ships that paint false names on their hulls, steal identification numbers from other vessels and execute their trades via ship-to-ship transfers at sea, to avoid prying eyes at ports. ... In the case of the Wise Honest, a globe-trotting North Korean salesman arranged the shipment by holding meetings at Pyongyang's embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia -- and then paid an Indonesian broker through bank transfers facilitated by JPMorgan Chase, according to bank documents and other evidence gathered by the monitors.
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Some ships carry on trading even after the Security Council places sanctions on them. In March 2018, the United Nations placed sanctions on a vessel registered in Dominica called the Yuk Tung, along with the Singaporean company that managed it, after the vessel traded with a North Korean ship. That punishment banned the Yuk Tung from all ports worldwide and effectively prohibited other ships from trading with it.

To keep operating in the East China Sea, the Yuk Tung painted a new name and a stolen identification number on its stern and falsely transmitted the stolen number. Meanwhile, the rightful owner of that ID was anchored in the Gulf of Guinea, more than 7,000 miles away, according to the monitors.
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Jeanne Whalen is a reporter covering business around the world. She previously reported for the Wall Street Journal from New York, London and Moscow. Follow https://twitter.com/JeanneWhalen

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