Criminal charge filed against tankship

Three US officials filed a criminal complaint on April 23rd charging the owner of tankship Courageous (IMO 8617524) with conspiring to evade economic sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and money laundering conspiracy.

Audrey Strauss, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, John C Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and William F Sweeney Jr, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), together filed the charges.

A civil forfeiture complaint was also filed against the tanker, which the officials alleged was purchased and operated by the owner to make illicit deliveries of petroleum products through ship-to-ship transfers with North Korean vessels, and direct shipments to the North Korean port of Nampo.

In March 2020 (IMN March 6th, 2020) Cambodian authorities arrested the Courageous on charges of illicit North Korean ship-to-ship transfers. That arrest was based on the allegation that the vessel departed Kaohsiung in Taiwan on February 15th 2020 before anchoring in Cambodian waters 11 days later. Police were reported to have locked down the ship on February 27th, before seizing it on Sunday and bringing it to the port of Sihanoukville. “The ship has been used to violate UN Security Council Resolutions 2375 and 2397 adopted September 2017,” Cambodian authorities said.

The ship had been sailing under a Cameroonian flag prior to its detention, though photos of the ship put out by police in 2020 week show it flying the flag of Cambodia.

The 1987-built, 2,734 gt vessel also appears to have sailed under the name Sea Prima and under the flag of the St Kitts & Nevis. No AIS since September last year, when it was en route from Kaohsiung, Taiwan, to Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

It is currently listed as owned and managed by New Eastern Shipping Co of Xiamen, Fujian, China. ISM manager is Courage Maritime SA-BZE of Taoyuan City, Taiwan.