October 7, 2022

OFAC designates DPRK petroleum import facilitators

The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Department of the Treasury has taken additional measures to target those who facilitate the import of petroleum to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  OFAC’s October 7, 2022 designation of Kwek Kee Seng, a resident of Singapore, Chen Shih Huan, of Taiwan, and the New Eastern Shipping Co Ltd, registered in the Marshall Islands, focuses on the designees’ involvement in the ownership or management of a vessel called Courageous (formerly Sea Prima ).  According to OFAC, the Courageous has disabled its automatic identification system to evade tracking, has conducted ship to ship fuel transfers at night, and has followed meandering routes in order to hide its ports of origin and destination.  Kwek Kee Seng and Chen Shih Huan have, according to OFAC, coordinated, supervised and paid salaries in connection with these transfers, while the New Eastern Shipping Co. Ltd. was the registered owner of the Courageous.  All were designated pursuant to Executive Order 13810.

In addition to these designations, OFAC has designated two Singapore-registered companies – also pursuant to Executive Order 13810 – for acting on behalf of, or being owned or controlled by, Kwek Kee Seng, a blocked person.  Kwek Kee Seng has been charged in the United States with conspiring to evade economic sanctions on the DPRK and for conspiring to launder money.  He remains at large.  The vessel Courageous has been forfeited to the United States pursuant to a judgment issued in US District Court for the Southern District of New York in July 2021.

As a result of these designations, all property and interests in property of today’s designees within the United States or within the possession or control of a US person are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions involving the designated persons. 

US Dept of the Treasury press release