US targets North Korean fuel procurement network, imposes sanctions on involved parties

The US Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has added two individuals and three entities to its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List for their activities related to the exportation of petroleum to North Korea, which directly supports the development of North Korean weapons programs and its military, according to OFAC.

In a statement, OFAC said this action highlights the US government’s commitment to implement existing United Nations Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs), including holding North Korea accountable for its use of illicit ship-to-ship (STS) transfers to circumvent UN sanctions that restrict the import of petroleum products and support the development of its weapons programs and military.

The new OFAC actions target Singapore-based Kwek Kee Seng, Taiwan-based Chen Shih Huan, and Marshall Islands-registered company New Eastern Shipping Co Ltd, which were involved in the ownership or management of the Courageous, a vessel that has participated in several deliveries of refined petroleum to North Korea. The Courageous, known as the Sea Prima during much of its illicit activity, conducted UN-prohibited STS transfers with North Korean vessels and at least one direct delivery at Nampo, North Korea.

OFAC said the Courageous engaged in deceptive shipping practices, such as disabling its automatic identification system, conducting STS transfers at night and in the Korea Bay (an area determined to be high-risk for sanctions evasion), and undertaking unnecessary detours to further obfuscate its true destination or origin.

Kwek Kee Seng closely coordinated STS transfers from the Courageous to the North Korean vessels and supervised the vessel during a delivery to North Korea. Chen Shih Huan assisted in the coordination of those deliveries. New Eastern Shipping Co Ltd was the registered owner of the Courageous during the time frame of the vessel’s illicit activity.

Additionally, OFAC designated Singapore-registered Anfasar Trading (S) Pte. Ltd. and Singapore-registered Swanseas Port Services Pte. Ltd. for being owned or controlled by, or for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Kwek Kee Seng.

OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by US persons or within the US (including transactions transiting the US) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.
In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with designated individuals or entities may themselves be exposed to designation.

Kim Biggar

Kim Biggar started writing in the supply chain sector in 2000, when she joined the Canadian Association of Supply Chain & Logistics Management. In 2004/2005, she was project manager for the Government of Canada-funded Canadian Logistics Skills Committee, which led to her 13-year role as communications manager of the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council. A longtime freelance writer, Kim has contributed to publications including The Forwarder, 3PL Americas, The Shipper Advocate and Supply Chain Canada.
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