Italy blocks yacht sale to N. Korea

July 22, 2009 at 6:04 PM
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ROME, July 22 (UPI) -- The Italian government blocked the sale of two luxury yachts to North Korea because they might have been intended for the country's dictator, officials said.

The Financial Times said Italian officials suspected the vessels were intended for the ailing dictator Kim Jong Il, which would have been at least a potential breach of international sanctions against North Korea.

The Times said it learned a $17.8 million contract for the 95-foot and 105-foot yachts was terminated earlier this month after an investigation by the Italian ministry of economic development and the anti-fraud police. The order for the yachts was placed through an Austrian company.

The yachts had been confiscated by the ministry, but were returned to Azimut-Benetti. Azimut, one of Italy's leading luxury yacht makers, has them at its boatyard in Viareggio.

The Times said Azimut cooperated fully in the investigation, and was not charged.

Topics: Kim Jong Il
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