The Australian Federal Police has reportedly begun investigating if two Australian miners were complicit in aiding North Korea in breaking UN sanctions.
It comes after the miners, David Henty Sutton and Louis Schurmann were linked, via their business interests in North Korea, to North Korean firm National Resources and Development Corporation (NRDC) which is reportedly an alias for a business exporting North Korea’s weapons.
The two are part of Pacific Century Rare Earth Minerals, which is a joint venture between NRDC and SRE Minerals, which are operating on the Jongju rare earths ‘mega-deposit’ in the country, as previously reported in Australian Mining.
New information from the recently leaked Panama Papers has highlighted the link between Schurmann and Sutton and the NRDC, also known as the Korea Natural Resources Trading company, in illegal banking practices , suggesting the two are complicit in breaching UN sanctions relating to mining agreements.
The ABC reports that the shell companies the mining agreements were originally made with AAT and EHG (which later became Bunuru Corporation) on the Kumwha polymetallic deposits were used to by North Korea to leapfrog UN regulators and allow it to operate financially in the international banking system.
Since the report ran on the 7:30 Report last week, DFAT has confirmed referrals have been made to the AFP “regarding possible breaches of [North Korea] sanctions by Australian companies,” according to the ABC.
The AFP has also confirmed an open investigation is being carried out, adding it would be inappropriate to comment at the time.
Image: Wolfgang Hampel