United States wins seized North Korean cargo ship

North Korea did not contest the legal action in court but protested the seizure to the United Nations calling the US a

US wins court seizure of North Korean cargo vessel

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The Wise Honest's owners also attempted to hide the ship's flag, as well as the origin of the coal, from authorities.

The 17,061 ton bulk carrier Wise Honest - the first North Korean vessel seized by Washington for sanctions violations - was caught carrying a US$3 million (RM12.54 million) shipment of coal in Indonesian waters past year and later handed over to USA authorities.

On June 1, 2017, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) placed Korea Songi General Trading Corp. on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List for its involvement in shipping coal from North Korea.

The "Wise Honest" was detained by Indonesia early last year for illicit coal shipments. and US prosecutors seized the vessel in May this year for violation of economic sanctions.

Prosecutors said that those involved in the conspiracy falsified documents to hide the origins of the ship and its cargo.

Washington filed a civil forfeiture complaint for the ownership of the Wise Honest in May, court documents showed.

Federal prosecutors in NY said on Monday (Oct 21) that they secured a judgment from US District Judge Kevin Castel awarding the ship, a Handysize bulk carrier known as the "Wise Honest", to the US, after the government filed a forfeiture action to seize it this year.

"It will no longer be used to further a criminal scheme", he added.

They alleged payments of more than $750,000 were made through an American bank for a March 2018 batch of coal aboard the ship.

The company's placement on the SDN List, as well as the ship, prohibits USA banks from providing financial services to these North Korean entities.

The parents of Otto Warmbier initially filed a claim for the ship to collect a $500 million judgment against North Korea for the death of their son.

"Using the full set of tools at our disposal, we will continue to investigate and prosecute attempts to evade USA sanctions, including by the North Korean regime", Berman said.

USA authorities have indicated they may auction the ship.

In a statement Monday, the prosecutors thanked Fred and Cindy Warmbier, the parents of deceased USA student Otto Warmbier, who voluntarily withdrew their claim of the vessel to hasten its forfeiture.

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