Three S.Korean firms imported N.Korean coal in breach of sanctions

This file photo taken on November 21, 2017 shows a general view of North Korean coal piled up on a dockside at the port in Rason. (AFP)
Updated 10 August 2018
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Three S.Korean firms imported N.Korean coal in breach of sanctions

  • Three South Korean firms imported coal from North Korea disguised as Russian products in violation of UN resolutions
  • The customs service did not identify the companies involved, but said about 35,000 tons of coal was brought into South Korea

SEOUL: Three South Korean firms imported coal from North Korea disguised as Russian products in violation of UN resolutions in a fresh sign of loosening sanctions, South Korea’s customs agency said on Friday.
Seoul has been examining nine cases of potential imports of North Korean coal, which would breach a resolution passed last August by the UN Security Council to choke off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The customs service did not identify the companies involved, but said about 35,000 tons of coal was brought into South Korea between April and October in 2017, worth 6.6 billion won ($5.8 million).
“The firms appear to have illicitly brought it in expecting big trading margins after prices of North Korean coal had dropped due to the import ban,” Roh Suk-hwan, deputy commissioner of the Korea Customs Service, told a news conference.
The agency said it would press charges against the firms and individuals involved for violating the customs law and forgery of private documents.
The government also plans to explore an entry ban or seizure of the 14 ships found to have transported the coal, the agency said.
But there was no financial transaction made, which would constitute another violation of the UN sanctions, as the companies took coal in return for mediating trade between North Korea and Russia, Roh said.
The UN Security Council banned North Korea’s sale of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood in a bid to slash by a third the country’s $3 billion annual export incomes, while capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.
The United States has led the sanctions campaign to press North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile programs.
But across the region, there have been signs that US President Donald Trump’s campaign for “maximum pressure” lost steam after Pyongyang sought to improve relations with Washington, Seoul and Beijing.
North Korean officials have toured China to discuss economic development and speculators are snapping up property along their common border. And South Korea is studying ways to boost engagement with the North.
Last month, Washington warned against loosening sanctions on Pyongyang after Russia and China suggested discussing such a move.


Shareholders of India’s Jet Airways approve debt-for-equity swap

Updated 23 February 2019
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Shareholders of India’s Jet Airways approve debt-for-equity swap

  • The plan will mean the lenders will have a bigger holding than any other shareholder
  • Currently, Chairman Naresh Goyal owns a 51 percent stake in the company and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways owns 24 percent

MUMBAI: India’s Jet Airways said late on Friday that its shareholders approved a plan to convert existing debt to equity, paving the way for the troubled company’s lenders to infuse funds and nominate directors to its board.
Jet’s board last week approved a plan by lenders, led by State Bank of India, for an equity infusion, debt restructuring and the sale or sale-and-lease-back of aircraft.
The plan will mean the lenders will have a bigger holding than any other shareholder.
Currently, Chairman Naresh Goyal owns a 51 percent stake in the company and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways owns 24 percent.
Jet, which had net debt of 72.99 billion rupees ($1.03 billion) as of end-December, has debt payments looming next month, according to rating agency ICRA. It has been unable to pay pilots’ salaries and has outstanding bills to aircraft lessors.
The company, India’s biggest full-service carrier, is struggling with competition from budget rivals, high oil prices and a weaker rupee. The share price took a beating in 2018, losing nearly 70 percent of its value.
In a regulatory filing, Jet said on Friday that 98 percent of its shareholders voted to increase the share capital to 22 billion rupees ($309.8 million) from 2 billion rupees at a special meeting.
Jet, whose financial woes are set against the backdrop of wider aviation industry problems, has been in the red for four straight quarters.