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  • On an overcast day in May 2020,

  • a satellite captures this image

  • over the sea near Taiwan.

  • At first it appears to just show clouds,

  • until you look closer and enhance the image.

  • What you see here is a transfer of oil

  • to a ship that will end up in North Korea

  • in a possible violation of international sanctions.

  • Covert oil deliveries are crucial to North Korea's

  • economy and its ballistic and nuclear weapons program.

  • Our investigation focuses on one way oil

  • is getting to North Korea.

  • We followed the movements of a single tanker

  • and the opaque corporate structures that surround it.

  • We spent months unraveling the story of the ship.

  • It's called the Diamond 8, and it's been identified

  • by the United Nations multiple times for its illicit trips

  • to North Korea.

  • We visited businesses, ports, and tracked tankers at sea,

  • all to find out who was behind these voyages.

  • What we discovered were elaborate networks,

  • many that connect to the Singapore-headquartered

  • oil trader the Winson Group, primarily through its

  • Taiwan operation Winson Shipping.

  • Catering to your needs.

  • Winson Group.”

  • Our investigation, which includes findings from

  • a new report by the research groups RUSI and C4ADS,

  • reveals for the first time how the Winson Group plays a role

  • in North Korea's bid to get oil.

  • The path from a single tanker to Kim Jong-un's regime

  • is convoluted.

  • When we laid it all out in a flow chart,

  • it looks like thisso we're going to simplify it

  • by focusing on the Diamond 8.

  • And we'll also look at two tankers that transport oil

  • to itthe Ever Grandeur and the Superstar.

  • These ships are connected by more than just their meet-ups

  • at sea.

  • They have ties to a handful of people who on the surface

  • seem unconnected, but when we looked deeper,

  • we found that most of the key individuals are linked

  • to the same village in China's Fujian Province.

  • And they all have connections to both Winson Shipping

  • and the Winson Group.

  • Let's first look at how the oil gets to North Korea.

  • We analyzed photos and past videos of the Diamond 8,

  • matched them with satellite imagery

  • and took measurements to create a visual fingerprint.

  • This allowed us to follow the Diamond 8's movements

  • last year.

  • We confirmed our findings with experts

  • who track oil tankers in North Korean ports.

  • We're going to show you two of its trips to North Korea.

  • The first one, in February 2020, starts here,

  • idling empty in the waters off of Fujian province,

  • a region where oil smuggling has historically been rampant.

  • It heads out and picks up oil from the Ever Grandeur

  • near Taiwan and goes straight to North Korea.

  • That trip is pretty direct.

  • The one we uncovered in May 2020, not so much.

  • But here's what we know.

  • The Diamond 8 sets off down Taiwan's coast.

  • It passes a port on April 30,

  • where a second, much larger red tanker is loading up oil.

  • That tanker, called Superstar at the time,

  • follows the Diamond 8 to international waters,

  • according to the ship's transmissions.

  • Cloudy skies that day appear to shield the operation

  • from satellites, but as we saw, a hole in the clouds

  • reveals the oil transfer.

  • For three weeks, the Diamond 8 doesn't enter any ports.

  • It's mostly just lingering in open waters.

  • Then it sails north.

  • Its required transmission signal

  • disappears for eight days, but we found it

  • during that window in this port in North Korea.

  • The dimensions and features match the Diamond 8,

  • a finding confirmed by experts.

  • When we spot it again, its signal is back on

  • and it's back near Taiwan, meeting up with the Superstar

  • to get more oil.

  • We wanted to know who was behind the Ever Grandeur

  • and Superstar, the two ships that supplied the oil

  • to the Diamond 8, so we looked at shipping records

  • to examine their history and management.

  • Let's start with the Ever Grandeur.

  • We actually went and filmed it while it sat idle

  • in the port of Kaohsiung in Taiwan.

  • Only five miles away is the company

  • that controls the ship.

  • It's called Glory Sparkling.

  • Chien Yuan Ju, a Winson Shipping executive,

  • told us they didn't set up Glory Sparkling.

  • But we found clues the companies are interconnected.

  • Glory Sparkling's address was on floors owned

  • by Winson Shipping.

  • Its address changed only after we started asking questions.

  • And Glory Sparkling's website, it was registered with

  • the name of a Winson Shipping employee.

  • We also have evidence showing that a high-ranking

  • Winson Shipping manager named Zuo Fasheng,

  • seen here with the Winson Group's founder, Tony Tung,

  • has also worked for Glory Sparkling.

  • We found his signature on documents for both companies,

  • including on paperwork for the Ever Grandeur.

  • Officials from Panama, where the Ever Grandeur

  • is registered, told us their records show

  • Zuo Fasheng is currently listed as the operator of the ship.

  • Now let's take a closer look at the Superstar,

  • the second ship supplying oil to the Diamond 8.

  • It's actually much more straightforward.

  • Winson Shipping owns it, and they confirmed

  • the May 2020 transfer to us, but told us the ship was leased

  • to someone else when the operation took place.

  • But they haven't said who.

  • Together, these details indicate how Winson Shipping

  • is connected to both ships that provided oil

  • to the Diamond 8, even after the ship had been publicly

  • outed by the UN for illicitly delivering oil

  • to North Korea.

  • So let's look at the Diamond 8 itself.

  • Winson Shipping actually owned it until 2016.

  • And from then until 2018, every company linked to it

  • listed their addresses and office space as

  • owned by Winson Shipping.

  • When we talked to their shipping manager,

  • he said that Winson Shipping sold the ship years ago,

  • but he also made a bold statement:

  • It's “ten thousand percent impossible

  • that it ever went to North Korea.

  • That's not true.

  • Our investigation and U.N. reports show

  • the Diamond 8 has been to North Korea

  • at least four times since late 2019.

  • So finding out exactly who is behind the Diamond 8

  • is not straightforward or easy.

  • To learn more, we had to look to Indonesia.

  • The registered owner of the ship

  • is Tan Jeok Nam, a 62-year-old retiree who lives here

  • in a modest neighborhood.

  • He told us that he was simply a sailor who couldn't afford

  • to buy the $1.4 million vessel.

  • Something clearly doesn't add up.

  • So we set out to find who sold him the ship

  • at least on paper.

  • When we reviewed the bill of sale,

  • we noticed the seller appears to be the daughter

  • of Hong Kong-based businessman Tsoi Ming Chi.

  • Tsoi is also linked to the company

  • that manages the Diamond 8.

  • When we visited that company in Indonesia,

  • there was no sign of a shipping business.

  • It's another dead end.

  • So back to the retired Indonesian sailor, Tan.

  • There's one more thing you need to know about him.

  • He actually used to work on oil tankers.

  • One of the tankers belonged to a Hong Kong company

  • owned by the late Wong Tin Chuk.

  • Wong, Tsoithese two businessmen

  • have something else in common.

  • They both have links to Winson companies,

  • including through a leased office space, mortgages,

  • and have exchanged ships with each other,

  • according to a report by research groups

  • RUSI and C4ADS.

  • And there's a personal nexus, too.

  • Wong and Tsoi are tied to the Winson Group's founder,

  • Tony Tung, through the same village

  • in China's Fujian region, population 2,600.

  • In fact, all three belonged to the village's hometown club

  • and the alumni association of the same middle school.

  • Two of them have been accused of smuggling in the past.

  • Take Tony Tung, for example.

  • He's faced multiple smuggling and bribery investigations.

  • His only conviction was later overturned.

  • Soon after he founded the Winson Group in the 1990s,

  • Tung and his brothers were accused

  • of smuggling cigarettes and oil into China,

  • according to court documents and state media.

  • One of Tung's brothers was sentenced to life in prison.

  • He served three years and was later pardoned.

  • At the time of the trial, Tung had already left China.

  • Over the last five years, Tung has stepped down

  • from executive positions at the Winson Group

  • and handed over the reins to his daughter, Crystal Tung.

  • In a statement to The Times, she said,

  • The allegations against Winson Group

  • are unfounded and false.

  • Winson Group did not take any actions in violation

  • of applicable sanctions against North Korea or any

  • sanctioned countries.”

  • After The Times asked questions about the company's

  • involvement in oil deliveries to North Korea,

  • Winson Shipping Taiwan changed its name

  • to Zheng Yu Shipping.

  • Chien Yuan Ju, the executive who spoke to The Times,

  • was also replaced as the official representative

  • of the company.

  • The mysterious retired sailor, the oil trader, the maze

  • of companiestaken together, they expose an elaborate system

  • that conceals one way oil is getting to North Korea

  • despite some of the strongest sanctions in history,

  • and how Kim Jong-un continues to defy

  • the international community.

  • As for the Diamond 8, it's back in Fujian, China,

  • awaiting its next orders.

  • Its operators are now using a new trick:

  • transmitting a fake ship name to hide its true identity.

  • Hey, this is Christoph, one of the reporters

  • on this story.

  • We spent months investigating who is providing oil

  • to a sanctions-busting tanker

  • that is delivering oil to North Korea.

  • We looked at a lot of satellite images,

  • reviewed corporate records and interviewed key players.

  • It was a massive team effort involving

  • reporters in four countries.

  • What you've just watched is only a small part

  • of our reporting, and you can find more details

  • at nytimes.com/ visualinvestigations.

  • If you have any other info on this story,

  • we'd love to hear from you.

  • And, of course, if you like what you're seeing,

  • subscribe to The New York Times.

  • Thanks.”

On an overcast day in May 2020,

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How a Mysterious Ship Helps North Korea Evade Oil Sanctions | Visual Investigations

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    Daniel Scott に公開 2021 年 04 月 26 日
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