The United States has announced that it will shortly release details of its efforts to thwart North Korea's massive sanctions evasion program. That report will most certainly include information on vessels registered in the Commonwealth of Dominica, and by Antigua & Barbuda, both of which East Caribbean states are known to be aiding and abetting the DPRK sanctions evasion program, by shipping goods, especially petroleum products, to North Korea.
Transfer of goods is completed on the high seas, in international waters near Korea. The US has, to date, refrained from disclosing actual interdictions, though we saw one Japanese Coast Guard interception of an illicit oil transfer, using a Dominica-flagged tanker. Many other incidents are believed to have been recorded by the US and its Asian allies, and we are looking forward to learning the extent to which Dominica and Antigua have allowed Chinese oil tankers to be transferred to their ships registry, and which government officials were involved. Bribes are suspected to have changed hands to complete the registrations.
Antigua, with close to 1000 vessels registered under its flag, is listed by the International Transport Workers' Federation as a jurisdiction selling Flags of Convenience, meaning that it does not enforce minimum international standards on its vessels, including safety and environmental matters. We are curious as to whether oil tankers registered in Antigua have travelled to the waters around Korea, and returned empty of cargo. We are also interested in how many of the "Chinese nationals" who hold CBI passports from Antigua & Barbuda and Dominica are really from North Korea. North Korea military has routinely held themselves out as Chinese when working overseas, particularly in Venezuela.
Government officials, and their attorneys, in both Antigua and Dominica, have long been declaring that the United States would take no action against them for rampant corruption by government leaders, and were recently surprised when the US recently exempted both nations from American visa renewal waiver privileges. Thought they mistakenly blamed OAS Venezuela voting, one of the reasons America exempted their citizens was the registration of vessels for North Korean sanction evasion efforts.
The US also took note of the registration of oil tankers by Dominica, which was used by the Iranian agent Alireza Monfared to sell sanctioned Iranian oil from his base in Labuan, Malaysia's notorious tax haven. We hope that the forthcoming American disclosures will answer all our questions regarding Caribbean culpability in the global North Korean sanctions evasion program.
Chronicles of Monte Friesner - Financial Crime Analyst
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock - Financial Crime Consultant