A New Zealand aircraft manufacturer has pleaded guilty in a local court to exporting aircraft parts to North Korea in breach of UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions, Fairfax Media New Zealand reported on Wednesday.
The company, Pacific Aerospace, was charged by New Zealand Customs in August with unlawfully exporting aircraft parts to the DPRK in violation of UNSC Resolution 1718 provisions pertaining to luxury goods.
The charges were specifically “for three breaches of the United Nations Sanctions (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) Regulations 2006, and one charge under section 203(1)(b) of the Customs and Excise Act 1996,” a press release from the New Zealand Customs read at the time of the charges.
At Manukau District Court on Wednesday, Pacific Aerospace’s defense lawyer Emmeline Rushbrook confirmed her client would plead guilty to three charges of indirectly exporting aircraft parts to the DPRK, Fairfax reported.
The company will also reportedly plead guilty to making an erroneous declaration on a customs export form.
An NK Pro investigation last year first revealed the presence of the company’s P-750 XSTOL light aircraft in North Korea at the country’s inaugural Wonsan International Airshow held in September 2016.
A UN Panel of Experts (PoE) tasked with monitoring North Korea sanctions implementation also investigated the presence of the plane, detailing the findings in its 2017 report.
According to the PoE, the “aircraft had been indirectly brought to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” via China.
Emails obtained by the PoE also revealed that Pacific Aerospace was aware of its aircraft’s presence in North Korea and continued to communicate with the Chinese reseller that had transferred the plane to the DPRK, even offering to provide training and spare parts for the plane.
The PoE was investigating the sale of the aircraft to North Korea in relation to its potential breach of Paragraph 8 (a) (iii) of UNSC Resolution 1718, passed in 2006.
Paragraph 8 section (a) (iii) states that UN Member States must prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to North Korea of luxury goods. According to the PoE, Pacific Aerospace confirmed that the P-750 qualifies as one of their luxury light planes.
According to Fairfax Media, the Judge has set sentencing for January 2018.
According to a statement by New Zealand Customs, the accused faces a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison, “or a fine not exceeding $10,000 in the case of an individual or in the case of a company or other corporation, a fine not exceeding $100,000.”
“The maximum penalty if convicted of an offence under section 203(1)(b) of the Customs and Excise Act is a fine not exceeding $1,000 for an individual, or a fine not exceeding $5,000 for a body corporate,” it added.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: Sam Chui, screengrab from Youtube
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