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U.S. sanctions companies, people for North Korean petroleum smuggling

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According to the U.S. treasury Department this photo from September 2019 shows the ship Courageous, then named Sea Prima, conducting a transfer of refined petroleum with the DPRK vessel Saebyol, which then delivered the cargo to the DPRK. <a href="https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy1000">Photo courtesy of U.S. Treasury Department</a>
According to the U.S. treasury Department this photo from September 2019 shows the ship Courageous, then named Sea Prima, conducting a transfer of refined petroleum with the DPRK vessel Saebyol, which then delivered the cargo to the DPRK. Photo courtesy of U.S. Treasury Department

Oct. 7 (UPI) -- The Treasury Department said Friday the United States has targeted two people and three companies with new sanctions for helping North Korea evade sanctions and get petroleum into the country.

The sanctions are for arranging illicit petroleum shipping into North Korea, an action Treasury said directly supports their military and weapons development.

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"The DPRK's long-range ballistic missile launches, including over Japan, demonstrate a continued disregard for United Nations Security Council resolutions," Brian Nelson, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement. "The United States will continue to enforce multilateral sanctions and pursue the DPRK's sanctions evasion efforts worldwide, including by designating those who support these activities."

The new sanctions target Singapore-based Kwek Kee Seng, Taiwan-based Chen Shih Huan and Marshall islands-registered New Eastern Shipping Company, alleging all are involved in ownership of the ship Courageous.

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The Treasury Department said that vessel, also known as the Sea Prima, conducted U.N.-prohibited ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum from North Korea.

According to the Treasury Department, the ship "engaged in deceptive shipping practices" while Kwek Kee Seng closely coordinated the transfers and "supervised the vessel during a delivery to the DPRK." Treasury said Huan is a business associate of Seng, who also allegedly assisted in shipping deliveries coordination.

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New Eastern Shipping Company was registered owner of the Courageous during the illicit activity, according to Treasury.

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Singapore-registered Anfasar Trading (S) Pte. Ltd. and Swanseas Port Services Pte. Ltd. were sanctioned for "having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Kwek Kee Seng."

In April 2021 a Justice Department criminal complaint accused Seng of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act by conspiring to evade sanctions and conspiring to launder money.

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