Nampo Port

After our previous article, Pyongyang Papers has been investigating more information regarding Tsoi Ming Chi and his lucrative trading business with the DPRK! After the success supplying refined petroleum to North Korea, Tsoi was so keen to continue trading he used his own tanker the Bonvoy 3 to break international sanctions!

The Bonvoy 3

The Bonvoy 3 (IMO 8978784) is listed in the most recent Final UN Panel of Experts report as not having a known flag and illicitly delivered refined petroleum to Nampo, North Korea on at least 2 occasions between August and September 2019. Pyongyang Papers has been informed that the IMO number listed on the UN Panel of Experts Report is incorrect and Tsoi’s Bonvoy 3 tanker actually sails under IMO 8714085. According to vessel tracking resources this tanker is sailing under the flag of Fiji.

Still Active?

The Bonvoy 3 also features in the UN Panel of Experts midterm report where it is listed with other foreign flagged vessels to have continued deliveries of refined petroleum between January and May 2020. The report states that the Bonvoy 3 and the other vessels are liable to seizure when they enter ports or territorial water of other states.

The report details evasion methods used by vessels and their owners supplying the DPRK. They include AIS manipulation and flagging. AIS manipulation can include displaying suspicious behavior such as transmitting falsified or inconsistent identifiers or reporting false destinations. This can also involve the ship being falsely flagged, using a flag after removal from the country’s registry or using a flag without authorization. These are just some of the ways the DPRK are managing to evade the sanctions limit on imports!

More information about the Diamond 8 has also been uncovered during our investigation. A source close to the Sierra Leone Maritime authority has informed us that this tanker has been de-flagged, had its registry cancelled and fines were issued to Tan Jeok Nam who is the listed owner. The Diamond 8 was seen delivering to Nampo on several occasions until 24 March this year.

Diamond 8 participating in illicit activity – Panel of Experts report

The recent Midterm report details substantial breaches of petroleum sanctions that are only contested by China and Russia on technicalities. It is clear that businessmen like Tsoi are able to exploit the current sanctions enforcement practices for profit whilst supplying a regime that is adept at illegal activity.

If you have any information about North Korean sanctions evasion then please get in touch with Pyongyang Papers.

Following on from our previous article, Pyongyang Papers has been informed and investigating more sanctions breaking activity involving crude and refined oil being sold to the DPRK illicitly. Since 2017 oil imports to North Korea have been sanctioned to 500,000 barrels a year by the UN because of the DPRK’s continued pursuit of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. A recent report indicated that the DPRK has easily breached the 500,000 barrel limit.


Pyongyang Papers has learned that in March this year an individual called Tsoi Ming Chi illegally procured refined petroleum for the DPRK. Tsoi, also known as Alex to his friends, is a Chinese businessman who used to work as the director of Sure Metro Limited (順國際有限公司) registered in Hong Kong.

Avoiding detection

Importing sanctioned items to North Korea does not appear to be a problem for Tsoi. Our investigation has revealed that Tsoi worked with a company called Winson Oil to purchase oil to be sent to the DPRK. The oil was transported using the Sierra Leone flagged tanker called the Diamond 8 (IMO 913612). The ship is listed as an oil/chemical tanker and was most recently recorded in the East China Sea according to tracking data online.

The Diamond 8 tanker

The most recent UN Panel of Experts report states the Diamond 8 delivered refined petroleum at Nampo, North Korea shortly after registering under a new owner and the Sierra Leone flag. The report also states that an unspecified company in Indonesia is listed as the ships manager and operator. The Panel of Experts report recommends the Diamond 8 is designated for violating sanctions. Clearly this ship and its owners not been playing by the rules!

The Diamond 8 received the oil through a ship-to-ship transfer from a tanker named Super Star (IMO 9085388). Super Star has had many names previously including Ocean Princess and has sailed under many different flags including Belize and Liberia. Changing ship names and flags is a common tactic used when conducting illicit activity and trying to avoid detection. Pyongyang Papers has also learned that the Diamond 8 did not take its cargo straight to the DPRK, some of the oil was loaded from the Diamond 8 to another Sierra Leone flagged oil products tanker An Ping, which also headed off to the DPRK separately.

Winson oil is a major energy trading company that offers trading and supply chain services in Asia. The official address is listed as being in Singapore and the company website states they have partnerships in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, China and Timor-Leste! The company website also mentions its stable relationships with major Asian refineries. This may help explain how they are able to aide sanction evaders so easily!

Transfers at Sea

Ship-to-ship transfers are a common technique used by entities to evade sanctions to supply as well as help the DPRK regime export commodities including coal. It has been reported that at least 2.8 million tonnes of coal were passed to Chinese barges via ship-to-ship transfers between January and August 2019. And with businessmen like Tsoi and large companies like Winson oil happy to help in search of profit, the DPRK is continuing to find ways to avoid sanctions at sea.

Please contact Pyongyang Papers if you have any information sanctions evasion or illicit DPRK activity.