Singapore-based Senat Shipping and Trading, which has been blacklisted by the US government for assisting illicit arms shipments into North Korea, said on 24 July that it no longer works with companies from the sanctioned country.
Leonard Lai, the company’s president, said in a press statement that Senat in 1997 began chartering in ships from North Korean companies to operate in the spot market.
Lai said all of Senat’s dealings were open and legitimate, and it was known in the market that the company worked with North Koreans.
Lai said Senat had indeed chartered in the Chong Chon Gang, which was seized near the Panama Canal in July 2013 for concealing Soviet-era arms and fighter jets below sugar cargoes.
That ship, owned by Ocean Maritime Management Company (OMMC), carrying cargoes from Cuba, was bound for North Korea, where OMMC is based.
Lai said the company stopped dealing with all North Korean companies after the incident, after which Singapore-based agent Chinpo Shipping Services was blacklisted too.
Lai said, “US Treasury’s move to put Senat and 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.