The Marshall Islands has de-registered a Taiwan-based company that was linked to fuel sales to North Korea in violation of United Nations sanctions.
The Trust Company of the Marshall Islands, which operates the world's second largest ship registry and a large corporate registry, says it has cancelled the registration of a Marshall Islands corporation with Taiwan ties because of its apparent involvement in illegal fuel sales to North Korea.
The tanker Lighthouse Winmore, a Hong Kong flagged ship, was impounded by South Korean authorities in late November for transferring oil to a North Korean vessel in breach of UN sanctions.
The tanker was chartered by Taiwan's Billion Bunker Group, which was registered with the Marshall Islands corporate registry managed by the Trust Company of the Marshall Islands.
"The Trust Company of the Marshall Islands, Inc. (TCMI) and the Republic of the Marshall Islands government received a request for information concerning the Billions Bunker Group Corporation, a Marshall Islands corporation, from the Taiwanese government," said Trust Company Manager James Myazoe, who is based in Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands.
"TCMI is aware of a few reports relating this Marshall Islands-registered corporation to the Taiwan-based Billions Bunker Group which has been implicated in illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum product for the benefit of North Korea."
In response to the request from Taiwan, "information and documentation concerning the Marshall Islands corporation is being provided to the Taiwanese government including the Taiwanese address of record," said Mr Myazoe.
While the Marshall Islands corporate registry has not officially received advice from international law enforcement agencies regarding this Marshall Islands corporation with Taiwan links, it has de-registered the company, said Myazoe.
"While TCMI has had no information from international authorities implicating the Marshall Islands corporation, TCMI is annulling the corporation due to its reported affiliation with Billions Bunker Group," he said.
A UN resolution adopted in September prohibits ship-to-ship transfers of oil to North Korea, while a resolution approved in mid-December allows countries to "seize, inspect, freeze and impound" any vessel found to be providing oil through ship-to-ship transfers, smuggling coal or other sanctioned goods to North Korea."
These sanctions were imposed because of North Korea's ongoing nuclear weapons and missile testing.