World News

Taiwan Citizens Accused of Violating U.N. Sanctions on North Korea

Posted January 31, 2018 10:29 a.m. EST

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Prosecutors in Taiwan have accused a former judge and his son of violating U.N. sanctions on trade with North Korea, the second such case involving citizens of Taiwan so far this year. Both cases also involve Chinese nationals.

The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office said in a statement Monday that Chiang Kuo-hua, previously a High Court judge, and his son, Chiang Heng, chartered a cargo ship through a Chinese middleman, which they used to transport coal to Vietnam from North Korea last summer.

On Sunday, prosecutors and police officers raided the offices of a company Chiang founded, as well as the residences of Chiang and his son and two other men believed to have been involved in the coal shipment. All four men were questioned Sunday and have been accused of assisting terrorists and forging documents.

Prosecutors have accused Chiang and his son of purchasing four tons of anthracite coal at the North Korean port of Nampo, which they then shipped to the Vietnamese port of Cam Pha. To avoid detection, the crew reportedly switched off the ship’s Automatic Identification System, a tracking device required of ships carrying a certain amount of tonnage.

The delivery of the coal to Vietnam, which took place shortly after the U.N. Security Council banned coal exports from North Korea in August, echoes the behavior of another Chinese-owned vessel, the Glory Hope 1.

Flying under a Panamanian flag, the Glory Hope 1 delivered North Korean coal to the port at Cam Pha — also with its tracking device switched off — in late August, according to photos and information U.S. intelligence officials provided to the United Nations.

Taiwanese prosecutors have not publicly disclosed the name or flag of the Chinese-owned vessel involved in the Chiangs’ reported coal shipment to Vietnam.

The father, Chiang Kuo-hua, initially failed to show up for questioning after checking himself into a hospital. Prosecutors have issued a warrant for Chiang and have applied for detention of the son, Chiang Heng, to prevent him from destroying evidence or speaking with the other defendants. The two other defendants, who have not been named, were released on bail.

The office of Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, issued a statement regarding the case, saying that Taiwan “will continue to cooperate with any relevant countries to strictly examine any similar illegal behavior in order to ensure national and regional stability and safety.”

Self-ruled Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations, which it wishes to join but cannot because of opposition by China, which claims it as its own territory. The current government under Tsai has made a point of adhering to U.N. resolutions to make a case for greater international recognition of Taiwan. In September, Tsai’s government announced it would end all trade with North Korea.

But that does not appear to have halted all Taiwanese trade with North Korea banned under U.N. sanctions.

Last month, Taiwanese prosecutors in the southern city of Kaohsiung detained and released Chen Shih-hsien, who leased a Chinese-owned ship registered in Hong Kong that was spotted by U.S. drones transferring oil to a North Korean vessel in international waters in October.

Chen, who maintains his innocence and claims he was framed by Chinese businessmen, made a failed suicide attempt Jan. 19, local news media reported.