By Michael Hernandez
The U.S. sanctioned two Russian shipping companies and six of their ships Tuesday over alleged violations of UN and U.S. sanctions on North Korea.
The two shipping companies -- Primorye Maritime Logistics Co Ltd and Gudzon Shipping Co LLC -- are suspected of transferring petroleum products to the North in violation of UN-mandated caps on such imports.
The companies are alleged to own the Russian-flagged Patriot ship, which the Treasury Department said participated in two ship-to-ship transfers of roughly 3,500 tons of oil to North Korea-flagged ships. The purchaser of the oil transfers was ultimately Taesong Bank, which the Treasury said is linked to the Workers' Party of Korea Office 39, a secretive group "which engages in illicit economic activities for North Korean leadership."
“Ship-to-ship transfers with North Korea-flagged vessels from Russia or elsewhere of any goods being supplied, sold, or transferred to or from the DPRK are prohibited under the UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea and are sanctionable under U.S. law,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
Americans are now generally prohibited from doing business with the two Russian shipping firms, and any assets they have in the U.S. have been frozen.
Six of their vessels are also affected including the Patriot, Neptun, Bella, Bogatyr, Partizan and Sevastopol.
In a separate announcement, the U.S. said it blacklisted two individuals and two companies for working on behalf of a company the U.S. sanctioned in June for seeking to provide the Russian government with underwater equipment and diving systems.
Marina Igorevna Tsareva allegedly worked on behalf of Divetechnoservices, the sanctioned company, as well as Vela-Marine Ltd., which was blacklisted Tuesday by the Treasury.
Anton Aleksandrovich Nagibin is also suspected of helping Divetechnoservices circumvent U.S. sanctions.
Slovakia-based Lacno S.R.O. was sanctioned for working with Divetechnoservices.