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On North Korea Sanctions Violations, Ship Was Funded By Bank of Maldives, Ex-Prez Nasheed Says

By Matthew Russell Lee, Full Exclusive, Video

UNITED NATIONS, March 6 – As South Korean envoys met with Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang and emerged with talk of North Korea suspending or even some said eliminating its nuclear program if assured security, and KCNA published photos, from South Asia came more talk of sanctions busting. The Maldives former president and now opposition figure Mohamed Nasheed picked up on Japan's reporting of ship to ship oil transfers from a Maldives-flagged ship, and added finance to it. He's quoted that "a ship with the Maldives' flag on it sold oil to North Korea ignoring the United Nations sanctions on the country. This ship was not only registered in the Maldives, but also funded by the Bank of Maldives. Japan's foreign ministry also announced that a Maldives ship was transferring oil to the North Korean regime on high seas. This shows that President Yameen is steering the country to a very dangerous path. I am not surprised at this because Yameen did the same thing a few years ago with Myanmar, when the country was under international sanctions." We'll have more on this. In the face of North Korea sanctions, the UN in December 2017 used the sanctioned Foreign Trade Bank and Russia's Sputnik Bank to release EUR 3,974,920.62 into the country, documents obtained by Inner City Press and exclusively published on February 21 show. On February 21, Inner City Press asked the Dutch chair of the UN Security Council's 1718 Sanctions committee about the exemption. He refused to comment, saying the issue did not come up in the meeting he had just exited. Video here, but see below. Now amid renewed focus in the lead up to the belated release of the UN Panel of Experts report, the Washington Post has done a deep dive into North Korea's laundering of coal: " The Togolese-flagged Yu Yuan and the Panamanian-flagged Sky Angel, both Chinese owned, were among two separate sets of cargo vessels that passed in and out of Kholmsk harbor in late summer and early fall of last year, carrying coal that at least partly originated in North Korean mines" - and ended up, the report goes on, in South Korea and Japan. This while Japanese media, particularly those ostensibly most hard line, go soft not only on the UN (see below) but also on Japan's own Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, which turned a blind computer eye to business with North Korea, then fled the New York regulator while being investigated, see below. Also now amid renewed focus on Sisi's Egypt as purchaser and selling-place for North Korean weapons, US President Donald J. Trump on March 4 spoke with Sisi, and the US issued this, without even a mention with North Korea: "President Donald J. Trump spoke today with President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi of Egypt.  President Trump and President Al Sisi discussed opportunities to enhance the American-Egyptian partnership on a range of security and economic issues.  The leaders discussed Russia and Iran’s irresponsible support of the Assad regime’s brutal attacks against innocent civilians.  President Trump and President Al Sisi agreed to work together on ending the humanitarian crisis in Syria and achieving Arab unity and security in the region." And not the 30,000 RPGs? A new light is cast on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' "very very warm regards" for Sisi this week, in a credentialing ceremony which Guterres' close protection ordered Inner City Press to stop recording, here.  Thirty thousand rocket propelled grenades could generally quite a bit of warmth - the last Panel of Experts report cited "the Jie Shun, a vessel commanded by a Democratic People’s Republic of Korea captain that was en route from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea towards the Suez Canal. A search revealed a cargo containing 30,000 PG-7 rocket propelled grenades and related subcomponents in wooden crates concealed under about 2,300 tonnes of limonite." In terms of Guterres' Lusophone world, the last PoE report said that "at the time of the Panel’s visit [to Angola], 12 nationals of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were providing martial arts and parade ground training. The Panel informed Angolan agencies that continuation of the training would constitute a violation of paragraph 9 of resolution 2270 (2016), which clarified the prohibition on the hosting of personnel from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for security force training, established under resolution 1874... the Panel enquired with the Government of Angola as to whether they had departed the country. The Panel has yet to receive a reply." The new report has yet to go on the Committee's website. On March 2, before the silence procedure expired on the United States' request to add to the sanctions list 27 companies, one individual and 33 ships, silence was broken by China and the listing did not proceed. This as the UN has held off sanctioning Chinese banks like China Merchants Bank, and China Construction Bank Corporation, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and Agricultural Bank of China for their business with Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development. But how will it, and the UN more generally be covered going forward? Day to day those most interested in the UN's 1718 committee are Japanese media. While certainly predisposed to reporting on any moves by China, less scrutiny is given to the UN itself. Perhaps this is because of Japan's long and unrequited desire for a permanent seat on the Security Council, pursued without effect by playing nice with the UN. Consider a recent profile of Secretary General Antonio Guterres by the Sankei Shimbun's evolving Mayu Uetsuka, casting Guterres and more decisive than his predecessor Ban Ki-moon. One, that's not saying much. Two, along the same lines, Ban at least audited the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery case, something Guterres has yet to do with the larger China Energy Fund Committee / CEFC China Energy UN bribery scandal, with the company now taken over by the Shanghai government. Three, the combative or defensive approach to China is mirrored by one by South Korea, particularly as that country refuses to give up on the issue of comfort women used by Japan in World War II. Notably, the misogyny is replicated in the microcosm of the United Nations. The same publication has had its #MeToo moments, in and out of Manhattan (female correspondents it is said are not allowed to have children during their deployments); local hires regardless of years of effective service are threatened with termination for not immediately dropping their young children. As the law has evolved in the United States that could of course be turned around. We'll have more on this - and on this: on March 2 a spokesperson for the chair of the Committee told Inner City Press, "As chair of 1718 committee we cannot comment on internal committee issues." Inner City Press has asked why the delegation, president of the Security Council for March, doesn't have a public schedule and read-outs, like the President of the General Assembly does. We'll have more on this. Meanwhile a complaint to the Committee by Japan about a Maldives flagged ship Xin Yuan 18 has drawn return fire from the embattled government of President Yameen: "No such vessel is registered in the country," his Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Wednesday. 'Further we condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the use of our National Flag in a manner so as to tarnish the good standing and reputation of our nation and that of our people. The Maldivian authorities do not allow flag of convenience to foreign owned vessels to operate outside Maldivian waters,' the statement added. The Government of Maldives gives high priority to the implementation of all resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, including the Resolutions on Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea). The Administration is currently investigating the matter and wishes to make clear that the Maldives will pursue aggressive action against any such acts which affects the National Identity in such a detrimental manner." Inner City Press has asked the chairmanship if Maldives has formally responded to the Committee; separately, the Panel of Experts' report is due on March 14, photo here. Japan said that 'at midnight on February 24, 2018, a P-3C aircraft of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (Fleet Air Wing 1 P-3C : Kanoya) found that Chon Ma San, North Korean-flagged tanker, was lying alongside Xin Yuan 18, Maldivian-flagged tanker, on the high sea (around 250 km eastern offshore of Shanghai ) in the East China Sea. Judging from the fact that the two vessels lay alongside each other with their lights turned on at night, both vessels could have been engaged in some type of activity. Following a comprehensive assessment, the Government of Japan strongly suspects that they conducted ship-to-ship transfers banned by UNSCR." Meanwhile in the matter Inner City Press is exclusively pursuing, a letter from Sputnik Bank stated that "unauthorized person (I.V. Tonkih) led  negotiations with Korean party on interbank correspondent relationship." Photos here, more documents in PDF now published on Patreon, here. On February 22, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric about how Sputnik Bank, given its admission, was selected, and then additional questions in writing, below - which Dujarric would not answer or confirm. Video here.

From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you quickly about a thing in North Korea.  I've learned yesterday and published the documents of a waiver sought by the UN system, he UN Resident Coordinator, Tapan Mishra. To use a, some say little-known, but, in any case, not a prominent Russian bank as a correspondent bank to send €4 million into North Korea in December.  And I wanted to know, first of all, how is the bank… there's a document that's… that's part of the request that shows that the Russian bank acknowledges that an unauthorized person even negotiated the correspondent bank relationship.  How does the UN system choose which correspondent bank to use?  And is this comment… is this… it seemed like they presented this as an emergency for third-quarter disbursements of 4 million euros into North Korea…Spokesman:  Listen, I don't know the details of the agreement.  What I do know is that the UN operates, has humanitarian presence and has a presence in Pyongyang.  We abide… the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea], as you know, is under very strict sanctions from the Security Council, which include issues of the banking sector.  We do need to get money to pay staff and to run our programmes.  I think it's only normal that we go through the Sanctions Committee to get the waivers.  We don't want to be… obviously, the Secretariat doesn't want to be in violation of Security Council resolutions.  To say that dealing with the banking sector in terms of banks that are willing to do business legitimately in the DPRK is challenging would probably be an understatement.  But whatever rules there are, I have no doubt that they were followed. Inner City Press:  So, simple question, is this… is this put out… is there a procurement for this?  I'm asking you because there's some questions about how the bank was selected even from… their own documents acknowledge some irregularities.  So how… can you look? Spokesman:  As I said, I don't have further details.  I can look into it, but I know we're working in a very challenging environment in trying to follow the rules and regulations to the 'T.'"  To the T? Inner City Press has also aske in writing, "Please state the total of funds the UN system (including specifically the agencies named in the Resident Coordinator's request) transferred in 2017 to DPRK, including total for program use (development assistance) and total for UN use (maintenance, local salaries, etc). When was the last audit of UN activities in North Korea / DPRK done? There will be more." In 2017 then-chairman of the UN Security Council's 1718 / North Korea sanctions committee Sebastiano Cardi of Italy informed Sputnik Bank to release the nearly EUR 4 million to the Foreign Trade Bank - the very entity for dealing with Latvia's ABLV Bank has been sanctioned by the United States.

   Previously, Cardi by letter had, according to UN Resient Coordinator Tapan Mishra, neglected to "make clear reference to the need for cash withdrawal." The Treasurer of the UN Development Program Paul Gravanese then asked Cardi for wider authorization for FTB to withdraw funds. This only concerned the third quarter of 2017 - what has been done since? The new chairman declined to say.

  Others say, the UN has fixed nothing, sweeps everything uner the rug.  Earlier this month when Inner City Press asked if the Committee's rulings on request for exemptions, and the underlying requests themselves, are placed on the Committee's website or otherwise made public. The answer was and is no.  Inner City Press will have more in this exclusive series. Media paid to cover the UN too often let it off the hook, on issues from North Korea to UN corruption to most recently automatic weapons. The UN has been the venue for bribes paid from Macau based operative Ng Lap Seng and now Patrick Ho of the China Energy Fund Committee - but on February 13 in the same basement the North Korea sanctions committee meets in the UN allowed an Indonesia based weapons company to advertise not only machine guns and drones but even tanks inside the UN. Periscope video here. But when the Japanese media paid to cover the UN belatedly chime in on gun control, like Sankei Shimbun's Mayu Uetsuka here, they ignored the UN's total failure in even advertising guns after the Florida shooting. They could have covered it, and still could; their Mr Tatsuya Kato in South Korea, whom Inner City Press supported here and here, and also in Sankei, proves there is something to support on a free Press basis. But. As the North Korea UN sanctions "experts" report continues to be cherry picked further and further down the food chain, now that North Korea paid its 2017 UN dues by means of a swap is also ignored, like the recent report focused on coal, pointing the finger at Vietnam, Russia, China, Vietnam and South Korea. Omitted, apparently intentionally, are violations by Japanese companies, like Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, as Inner City Press has reported. It is facts chucked or thrown, rather than fact checked. How far will today's UN go to placate some countries, while ignoring others and restricting the Press? On January 26 UN "global communications" chief Alison Smale flew to Charleston, South Carolina for a photo op and UNTV video with China's Xiamen Airlines for having painting the UN's "SDGs" logo on the side of an airplane. This without having answered Press questions about her Department of Public Information's malfeasance with resources allocated by the General Assembly for Kiswahili and about the lack under her "leadership" of any content neutral UN media access rules. Afterward, when Inner City Press asked for the mp4 video of her South Carolina junket - Inner City Press is informed that the plane she celebrated could not in fact fly - it was told to "Ask UN Webcast," which is under Smale. They were asked - and have not given the video. Nor has Smale offered any response to a detailed petition two weeks ago, while re-tweeting her former employer the NYT and current boss Antonio Guterres. But who is making who look bad? And how can a former NYT editor have no content neutral media access rules, and no answers? As she restricts Inner City Press from its UN reporting on Cameroon, Myanmar, Kenya, Yemen and elsewhere? We'll have more on this. While any country would try to get the UN to promote its airline, if the UN would do it, Smale is the UN official who responsible for Inner City Press being restricted and evicted as it reports on the UN bribery scandal of Patrick Ho and China Energy Fund Committee. Smale hasn't even deigned to answer petitions in this regard, in September (she said she recognized the need for the "courtesy" of a response, never given) and in January -- too busy flying to South Carolina to promote an airline:

Today's UN of Antonio Guterres, who just met with ICC indictee Omar al Bashir, and his Deputy Amina J. Mohammed who has refused Press questions on her rosewood signatures and now the refoulement of 47 people to Cameroon from "her" Nigeria, has become a place of corruption and censorship. On January 30 as Inner City Press sought to complete its reporting for the day on Guterres' Bashir meeting and Mohammed's Cameroon no-answer, it had a problem. It was invited to the month's UN Security Council president's end of presidency reception, 6:30 to 8:30 - but with its accreditation reduced by censorship, it could not get back into the UN after 7 pm, to the already delayed UN video. It ran to at least enter the reception - but the elevator led to a jammed packed third floor, diplomats lined up to shake the outgoing UNSC president's hand. Inner City Press turn to turn tail back to the UN, passing on its way favored, pro-UN correspondents under no such restriction. Periscope here. Inner City Press has written about this to the head of the UN Department of Public Information Alison Smale, in Sepember 2017 - no answer but a new threat - and this month, when Smale's DPI it handing out full access passes to no-show state media. No answer at all: pure censorship, for corruption. Smale's DPI diverted funds allocated for Kiswahili, her staff say, now saying they are targeted for retaliation. This is today's UN. Amid UN bribery scandals, failures in countries from Cameroon to Yemen and declining transparency, today's UN does not even pretend to have content neutral rules about which media get full access and which are confined to minders or escorts to cover the General Assembly.

Inner City Press, which while it pursue the story of Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng's bribery of President of the General Assembly John Ashe was evicted by the UN Department of Public Information from its office, is STILL confined to minders as it pursues the new UN bribery scandal, of Patrick Ho and Cheikh Gadio allegedly bribing President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa, and Chad's Idriss Deby, for CEFC China Energy.

Last week Inner City Press asked UN DPI where it is on the list to be restored to (its) office, and regain full office - and was told it is not even on the list, there is no public list, the UN can exclude, permanently, whomever it wants. This is censorship.


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