U.S. Seizes North Korean Ship for Violating Sanctions – The New York Times

The civil action came as North Korea’s weapons tests over the past several days have threatened the disarmament discussions that President Trump opened. Mr. Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, abruptly ended their second meeting earlier this year when Mr. Trump refused to ease sanctions unless the North dismantled all of its nuclear weapons.

Though the Justice Department obtained a sealed seizure warrant for the ship in July, officials said the timing of the complaint seeking the vessel’s forfeiture had nothing to do with the current tensions between the two countries. On Thursday, the Wise Honest was in United States custody and on its way to American Samoa, the Justice Department said.

Prosectors said the ship was used in a North Korean scheme to export tons of coal to foreign countries and import heavy machinery in violation of international sanctions.

Three American banks were unwittingly ensnared in the scheme, officials said, transmitting payments around the world for maintenance, equipment and improvement of the shipping vessel. The Wise Honest’s coal haul from March 2018 drew payments of more than $750,000 through accounts at one of the banks, the complaint said.

“With this seizure, we have significantly disrupted that cycle,” said Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney in Manhattan.

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