Singapore—A report from Russian independent major news agency Interfax on Friday, December 6, says Singapore intends to arrest a Russian ship, the tanker Sevastopol.

The tanker is under a US ban for the violation of economic sanctions imposed on North Korea, the Moscow Times reports.

However, Sergei Novoseltsev, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Singapore, told RIA Novosti, a Russian state-operated domestic news agency, “What is happening in Singapore with the Sevastopol ship is not related to politics.

“The Russian container ship was seized for debt, and the Singapore authorities want to obtain permission through the court to sell it.”

The seizure of the Sevastopol in Singapore is because of unpaid parking debts. The vessel is docked in Singapore since February, where it experienced auxiliary-engine failure.

Gudzon, a Russian shipping company, was targeted by the US Treasury in August 2018, putting sanctions on six of its ships: Bella, Bogatyr, Neptun, Partizan, Patriot and Sevastopol.

Sevastopol was held for a short time in South Korea last year.

The deputy director of Gudzon, Oleg Anikin, “Singapore sent papers saying it’s arresting the ship over parking debts. We could lose this ship.”

He adds that Singapore will be confiscating the Sevastopol via the court and then sell it at a public auction, with the trial set for December 17.

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The Sevastopol’s parking debts are approximately 61 million roubles (S$1.3 million), says the Ekho Moskvy radio station.

Gudzon’s Mr Anikin said that the 12 crewmen on board the Sevastopol have sufficient provisions but have not been allowed to move around Singapore at will.

He also said, “Singapore hopes the court will hand it the vessel, then American sanctions against it could be lifted and it could be sold.”

On August 21 last year, the United States announced that it was imposing sanctions on two Russian shipping companies and six vessels that it said were linked to the transfer of petroleum products to North Korean vessels, which violates UN restrictions.

The two shipping companies are Gudzon and Primorye Maritime Logistics (Primorye), which are both based in Vladivostok.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement, “Ship-to-ship transfers with North Korea-flagged vessels from Russia or elsewhere of any goods being supplied, sold, or transferred to or from (North Korea) are prohibited under the UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea and are sanctionable under US law.”

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Punishment for violating these sanctions will remain in place until we have achieved the final, fully verified denuclearisation of North Korea.”

The allegations that Russia provided North Korea with refined petroleum products in violation of UN Security Council restrictions have been denied by Russia which also said that the sanctions were groundless, Reuters said in a report. -/TISG