North Korea links haunt local firm

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CONTROVERSY surrounds local company Mansudae Boka Designs Private Limited’s trade activities, amid reports it may be linked to North Korean company — Mansudae Overseas Project (MOP) Group of Companies (MOP), which is under United Nations (UN) sanctions.

Wongai Zhangazha

The local company has been doing business with Zimbabwe’s military, police and prison services. The development comes at a time a United Nations Panel of Experts report dated September 5 2017 revealed that the UN had written to the Zimbabwean government demanding to know MOP’s operations in the country.

This comes as it emerged that Harare could be violating UN resolutions restricting trade with the South-East belligerent Asian country.

Zimbabwe — which has historical links with North Korea — was listed among African countries doing business with Mansudae despite UN resolutions restricting trade with the Asian country.

MOP is a construction company based in Jongphyong-dong, Phyongchon District, Pyongyang, North Korea.

The company allegedly helps to fund the North Korean regime, which is accused of threatening international peace and security through its nuclear programmes.

The company was involved in the construction of the Zimbabwe’s National Heroes Acre, including the statue of the Unknown Soldier. MOP also made the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s statue. If investigations by the UN establish that Zimbabwe continues to assist or is doing business with North Korea, the country or local companies dealing with the Asian country run the risk of having their assets frozen.

Mansudae Boka Designs Private Limited, whose majority shareholders are North Koreans, is also under the spotlight given that the latest UN Security Council resolutions (2375) order states to prohibit their nationals, entities or individuals from doing business with North Korea. The Zimbabwean company is involved in jewellery and also manufactures buckles, brochures, rank medals and badges for the security sector.

UN resolution 2375, adopted on September 11, bans existing joint ventures with North Koreans who were involved in Gukurahundi massacres.

A search by the Zimbabwe Independent at the registrar of companies shows that although MOP is not specifically registered in Zimbabwe, there is Mansudae Boka Design Company, whose majority shareholders are North Koreans, raising suspicious about its activities. The company was incorporated on February 6 2001 and has an issued share capital of US$20 000. It is located in Mount Pleasant, Harare. It has three shareholders — Rudo Boka (who is also registered as the company secretary) with 6 000 shares, while the North Koreans Hyo Song Pak and Kyong Chol Yun each have 7 000 shares.

However, Boka on Wednesday denied links to MOP. “This might be a case of mistaken identity. The company you are referring to deals with sculptures. We are into jewellery. We have no connections, no links,” she said.

“The only coincidence is that the co-directors are from North Korea and the prefix of the name. We are a jewellery manufacturing company, we have investments and we are actually registered with the EPZ (Export Processing Zones Authority).

We do not do weapons for the military, what we do are ordinance that is making badges, brochures, buttons and rank medals for the military.”

Zimbabwe is among many African countries doing business with MOP, according to UN resolution 2371, which widened sanctions against North Korea in response to intercontinental ballistic missile tests by the Asian Nation in June.

“Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies engaged in, facilitated, or was responsible for the exportation of workers from the DPRK to other nations for construction-related activities, including for statues and monuments to generate revenue for the Government of the DPRK or the Workers’ Party of Korea,” reads the resolution.

“The Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies has been reported to conduct business in countries in Africa and Southeast Asia, including Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Benin, Cambodia, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Malaysia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia, Syria, Togo, and Zimbabwe.”

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