North Korea is dodging sanctions with fish and front firms in Mozambique

On the surface, there is nothing remarkable about this sleepy fishing port in Maputo.

But hidden from view, wedged between the other boats and ships docked there, are the rusty Susan 1 and Susan 2. These are not ordinary fishing vessels, but sanctions-busting trawlers manned by crews from North Korea.

Pyongyang’s interest in a couple of aging African trawlers may seem odd at first. But fishing is big business in Mozambique — it’s one of the country’s most lucrative industries. North Korea wants a slice of that much-needed cash, and boats are easy to move and conceal.

On the surface, there is nothing remarkable about this sleepy fishing port in Maputo.

But hidden from view, wedged between the other boats and ships docked there, are the rusty Susan 1 and Susan 2. These are not ordinary fishing vessels, but sanctions-busting trawlers manned by crews from North Korea.

Pyongyang’s interest in a couple of aging African trawlers may seem odd at first. But fishing is big business in Mozambique — it’s one of the country’s most lucrative industries. North Korea wants a slice of that much-needed cash, and boats are easy to move and conceal.

Joint fishing ventures are just one area of illicit trade the two countries are engaged in. In a months-long investigation, CNN uncovered a secret web of front companies, military cooperation and elite-forces training deals between North Korea and Mozambique, all in violation of international sanctions, according to United Nations investigators.

Documents reviewed by CNN show that the cooperation is sealed with illegal contracts worth millions of dollars. The money is funneled through regionally based North Korean diplomats to Pyongyang, some 7,500 miles away.

US officials have long maintained that the money from ventures like this goes straight into North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s notorious nuclear slush fund, known as Office 39.

With crippling sanctions squeezing the pariah state, Kim needs hard currency to further develop his nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The Trump administration wants to stop the money flowing. Tougher UN and US sanctions, sustained pressure on China and executive orders are all part of Washington’s playbook to squeeze North Korea.

The plan, so far, doesn’t appear to be working.

 

Credits/Sources: www.tribuneonlineng.com