New Zealand Link To Korean Arms Dealers

Interesting report by Michael Field, writing in Stuff today

“New Zealand’s role in allowing easy shell company creation has been revealed by a UN Security Council report as a key component in efforts by North Korea to break international arms trading sanctions.

A 75-page report on North Korea’s sanctions busting efforts was released by the council in New York today after its publication was blocked for six months by China, a key ally for North Korea.

Written by a panel of experts it also reveals some new details about a shipment of arms seized in Thailand last December from an aircraft chartered by an Auckland registered company, SP Trading Ltd.

The report is embarrassing for New Zealand which tries to portray itself in the United Nations as a good global citizen…read his full article here

The incident involving SP Trading Ltd. was reported in the Bangkok Post in Dec 2009:

Gun-runner plane probe to take 1-2 weeks
It will take a week or two to complete the investigation into the impounded cargo of explosives, grenades and other weapons found in the plane from North Korea, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said on Thursday.

The 35-tonne load, including missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, was discovered after the plane and its a Belarussian pilot and four Kazakh crew landed to refuel at Bangkok’s domestic airport on Friday. No country had yet come forward to claim for the seized weapons, he said.

Thailand must be careful when saying where the Russian-made Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft was heading, or it could upset a lot of people, he said. He would announce the findings when the investigation was complete. Mr Suthep, who oversees security, said it was too early to say if Thailand could make use some of the weapons.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand government said it was investigating whether there were any links between a New Zealand-registered company and the huge cache of weapons flown out of North Korea.

“We are aware of the media reports and are seeking to verify any substance to allegations of a New Zealand connection,” a New Zealand foreign ministry spokeswoman said…

…A company called SP Trading is on the New Zealand Companies Register with an office in Auckland. The only listed director is Lu Zhang and all the company shares are owned by another company Vicam (Auckland) Ltd…” more here

Also see NZ Shell company ‘helped smuggle arms‘ -SMH Jan 2010

“New Zealand is reviewing its liberal system of company registration after a shell company based in the country leased a plane that smuggled arms from North Korea, the commerce minister says.

Adding to concerns is a spike in applications this month to set up New Zealand companies with only overseas directors and shareholders.

Some five per cent of the new applications are for foreign-directed companies – 56 out of a total 1125 received as of January 20, compared to about 3.6 per cent for all of last year, according to NZ government figures.

NZ Commerce Minister Simon Power said that the increase is “a particular area I’m looking at.” more here