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UN says North Korea defied sanctions with luxury vehicles

AFP  |  United Nations 

UN sanctions monitors are investigating Kim Jong Un's luxury purchases of a Rolls-Royce, and four-wheel-drive vehicles rolled out during the North Korean leader's recent international meetings, the of the panel said Tuesday.

Kim drew the attention of sanctions experts when he turned up at a meeting with US in in October in a brand-new limousine.

At the summit with in June, Kim's entourage was ferried in a fleet of luxury cars, none of which had license plates.

And a number of LX570 all-wheel drive were used by the North Korean delegation at an inter-Korean summit in in September.

"The North Koreans procure what they want. They get the best when they need it," Hugh Griffiths, who for the past five years has been the of the UN panel of experts investigating sanctions-busting by North Korea, told AFP.

The has barred from exporting coal and other commodities, curbed deliveries of and fuel and restricted banking, among other measures aimed at choking off revenue to Pyongyang's weapons program.

The sale of luxury goods including high-end cars, yachts and jewelry to has been banned since 2013, and the list of lavish items has been extended in subsequent sanctions resolutions.

The use of the swanky, expensive at summits was seen as a brazen display by Kim of his defiance of international sanctions, at a time when has appealed for UN help to deal with

"Violating sanctions is bad behavior and such obvious violations at international events aren't helpful, in my view, for enforcing of sanctions," Griffiths said.

"You don't want to make a mockery of the sanctions." The UN panel released a report on Tuesday that detailed highly-sophisticated evasion tactics used by North Korea to circumvent the sweeping sanctions imposed for its nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

After providing with photos of the Phantom, the company said it appeared to have been produced between 2012 and 2017 at its British plant in Goodwood, the report said.

The investigation continues to determine how the Phantom, listed at a price of about USD 450,000 in car trade publications, was shipped to

The fleet of vehicles was sent from a US port in to Hong Kong at the direction of a Chinese businessman, George Ma, whose company Seajet has ties to North Korea's Air Koryo national

Asked about the vehicles, told the panel that it had not exported them to North Korea and that the vehicles probably were bought through back channels.

Despite the loopholes, Griffiths said the sanctions -- the most comprehensive imposed on any country by the -- had put Kim "in a box" and forced him to expend major efforts to circumvent the restrictions.

"They are getting around them, but it's not sustainable," said Griffiths, who will be leaving his post next month.

One of North Korea's key weapons in battling sanctions is its fleet of vessels, which have been renamed, placed under foreign flags and disguised to avoid detection of illegal cargo.

Pyongyang has been able to continue selling banned commodities such as coal and to secure deliveries of fuel through ship-to-ship transfers in international waters, according to the panel's findings.

"It's crazy what is happening in international waters now. It's essentially anarchy," said Griffiths.

The panel has recommended that governments put pressure on commodity traders, insurers, flag-states and global banks to keep closer watch over vessels used in sanctions-busting.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, March 13 2019. 02:35 IST