The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has placed sanctions on two Taiwanese companies and a Hong Kong-based entity for their alleged roles in ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products to North Korea.

OFAC said these petroleum shipments violate both U.N. and U.S. government sanctions for North Korea.

U.S. Blacklists Two Executives for Alleged Oil Trade with North Korea

“Shipping companies trading with North Korea are exposing themselves to significant sanctions risk, despite the deceptive practices they try to employ,” said Treasury Undersecretary Sigal Mandelker in a statement.

The U.S. government praised Taiwan for its “continued efforts to combat” North Korea’s efforts to evade sanctions and obtain foreign-made components for its weapons and missile programs.

The two sanctioned Taiwanese companies are Jui Pang Shipping Co. Ltd. and Jui Zong Ship Management Co. Ltd., while the sanctioned Hong Kong-based entity is Jui Cheng Shipping Co. Ltd. The companies are managed by Taiwan-based individuals Huang Wang Ken and Chen Mei Hsiang, who also were sanctioned by OFAC.

In addition, OFAC identified the vessel Shang Yuan Bao as blocked property in which the three companies and two Taiwanese nationals have an interest and was involved in the ship-to-ship transfers of fuel to North Korea.

Under the sanctions, all property and interests in property of these entities and individuals that are in the U.S. or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC.

OFAC said in 2018 the Shang Yuan Bao conducted at least two ship-to-ship transfers with North Korean-flagged vessels that offloaded their cargo in North Korea’s Nampo port. 

The U.N. Security Council’s 1718 Committee in October 2018 included the Shang Yuan Bao in a port entry ban and designated the ship for “deflagging” for its involvement in illicit ship-to-ship transfers to North Korean-flagged ships.In recent years, OFAC has added scores of North Korean-flagged vessels to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List.

The U.S. government, however, acknowledged that North Korea continues to violate U.N. sanctions through illicit schemes, such as ship-to-ship transfers, to gain access to fuel and other foreign-manufactured goods.