SINGAPORE, July 24 (Reuters) – Singapore-based Senat Shipping said on Friday it had done nothing illegal and that it was unreasonable to be put on a U.S. sanctions list for alleged connection with a blacklisted North Korean shipping company.
The U.S. Department of Treasury on Thursday listed Senat, arguing it had supported Ocean Maritime Management Company (OMMC), which had arranged an illegal shipment of arms on the Chong Chon Gang ship that was seized in Panama in 2013.
The sanctions will also target Senat’s president, Leonard Lai, and a company vessel, the department said.
“The US Treasury’s move to put Senat and Leonard Lai on the OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) list is a misguided measure purely based on Senat’s historical dealings with OMM,” said the company in a statement emailed to Reuters.
Senat denied any illegal activities, and said it was in talks with Singaporean authorities and in the process of contacting the U.S. Treasury Department to explain its position.
Senat had commercial dealings with North Korea and had chartered Chong Chon Gang before the ship was seized, but it stopped dealing with North Korean ship owners after the ship arrest, the statement said.
It stressed that the company was not the charterer of the vessel at the time of its arrest. It compared the U.S. case with hiring a car and being held responsible for the car owner’s illegal activity.
Singapore last year filed criminal charges against another Singaporean firm Chinpo Shipping for alleged involvement in the Chong Chon Gang case.
The charge sheets said that Chinpo Shipping had transferred $72,106.76 to a Panama shipping company in March when it had reason to believe that the money might be used to contribute to North Korea’s weapons programs.
The firm was also charged with carrying out a remittance business without a license between 2009 and 2013.
(Reporting by Rujun Shen; Editing by Michael Perry)
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