North Korean Firm Renaming Ships to Dodge UN Sanctions

A North Korean shipping company, blacklisted by the United Nations, has been renaming and reflagging its vessels to avoid an arms embargo, the UN said in a report.

Namely, the U.N. Security Council committee imposed sanctions on Ocean Maritime Management (OMM) for smuggling Soviet-era arms from Cuba on board its ships. Under the sanctions, the company is subject to an international asset freeze and travel ban.

An OMM ship, Chong Chon Gang, was seized near the Panama Canal in 2013 for carrying arms and missiles, hidden under thousands of tonnes of sugar. The ship was stopped under suspicion that it was smuggling drugs, however; the following search found the illicit cargo.

According to the UN report, set for discussion on Thursday, OMM has renamed 13 of its 14 ships and transferred their ownership and management to other single ship owner companies, the AFP writes citing the report.

By reflagging and renaming its vessels OMM planned to keep off the radar so as to evade asset freeze by member states, the report said.

The ban on imports and exports of all but small arms forms part of strict sanctions imposed against North Korea because of its nuclear weapons program.

OMM is reported to have operations in at least 10 countries.

World Maritime News Staff

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