Singapore: A Singapore-based shipping company, Senat Shipping, has been blacklisted by the US Treasury Department for alleged involvement in a North Korean weapons smuggling deal.
Senat Shipping and its president, Leonard Lai, have received financial sanctions while the vessel Dawnlight, in which the company has an interest, was also sanctioned.
According to the treasury department, Senat Shipping arranged the purchase, repair, certification and crewing of vessels for North Korean firm Ocean Maritime Management Company (OMMC) which operated a ship seized by Panamanian authorities in 2013 for carrying undeclared military equipment from Cuba.
“Arms shipments transported by OMMC serve as a key resource for North Korea’s ongoing proliferation activities. Sales from these shipments contribute to North Korea’s other illicit programs,” Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam J. Szubin said in a statement.
“We are working to make it as challenging as possible for North Korea to continue its unlawful behavior by actively targeting anyone or any business that supports these illicit arms transfers,” he said.
In a written statement this afternoon Senat Shipping denied any wrongdoing saying: “Neither the company, nor its directors and shareholders have ever attempted to conceal their long standing business links with North Korea in relation to the chartering of vessels to operator on the international spot market.
“There is no suggestion this legitimate business activity contravenes any of the UN sanctions against North Korea.”
According to a U.N. report, 13 of the 14 ships controlled by OMMC changed their owners and managers in the past few months to avoid sanctions.