Singapore-based Senat Shipping and Trading, which has been blacklisted by the US government, has argued that the action is unfair and a mistake.
Senat was blacklisted because it was said to have been involved in illegal arms shipments to North Korea.
But company president Leonard Lai insisted that all Senat’s dealings were open and legitimate and it was known in the market that the company worked with North Koreans.
In a 24 July press statement, he added that the company no longer worked with companies from the sanctioned northeast Asian country.
Senat, the statement said, began chartering in ships from North Korean companies in 1997.
Lai said it had indeed chartered in the Chong Chon Gang, which had been seized by Panamian authorities in July 2013 after reports that it was concealing Soviet-era arms and fighter jets below sugar cargoes.
That ship, owned by Ocean Maritime Management Company (OMMC), was carrying cargoes from Cuba to North Korea. OMMC is based in North Korea.
Lai argued his company stopped dealing with all North Korean companies after the incident, which saw Singapore-based agent Chinpo Shipping Services blacklisted too.
Lai said, “US Treasury’s move to put Senat and myself OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) list purely based on my historical dealings with OMM and not based on anything illegal is unreasonable and is akin to one having hired a car before and the same car was used by the car owner to conduct illegal activities and his crime was linked to us who was a previous hirer of the car.
Lai said he would contact the US Treasury to rectify what he described as an erroneous inclusion in the OFAC list.