Tanker captain charged for illegal diesel transfers to North Korean ships

Image: MarineTraffic.com/Seongwoo Seo
Image: MarineTraffic.com/Seongwoo Seo – P Pioneer

An oil tanker captain has been indicted in South Korea for violation of both local laws and UN Security Council resolutions after authorities found evidence his ship had illegally transferred diesel oil to North Korean vessels in international waters.

The filing of charges comes after the South Korean-flagged P Pioneer, which has been under the Korea Coast Guard’s custody in Busan for the last six months, was found to have transferred a total volume of approximately 4,320 tonnes of diesel to two North Korean oil tankers in the East China Sea in September 2017.

The Korea Coast Guard seized the ship after receiving an intelligence tip from US authorities.

A follow-up investigation revealed P Pioneer had also submitted falsified port entry and exit documents and carried far less diesel than its maximum cargo capacity to avoid raising the suspicion of port authorities.

The tanker is owned by a South Korean shipping firm and was leased to a Philippine operator at the time of its seizure by the Korea Coast Guard.

Both companies will also face charges, an official of the South Korean Foreign Ministry said.

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