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90،000 bottles of vodka 'intended for Kim Jong-un' are impounded by Dutch customs officials

Wednesday 27/February/2019 - 10:10 AM
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Daily Mail and AP
A cargo of 90،000 bottles of vodka apparently intended for Kim Jong-un's regime have been impounded by Dutch customs officials.

The haul of Russian vodka was intercepted in a Rotterdam port under an aircraft fuselage in a Chinese container ship.

Customs officials in the Netherlands the liquid cargo was being smuggled to North Korea in breach of United Nations sanctions.

Kim Jong-un has just arrived in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi ahead of the much anticipated second summit with US President Donald Trump.
Officials spotted the shipment after noting suspicious activity in the route it was taking after being originally sent from Russia.

They decided to check when it arrived at the Port of Rotterdam، Europe's largest harbour، and eventually discovered the bottles of cheap vodka.

Reports said the bottles were of the brand Stolbovaya - which in Russian means 'Of Distinguished Descent'.
A 0.5-litre bottle of Stolbovaya can be bought in Russia for just over £1 - a surprisingly low amount given Kim Jong-un's reported appreciation for expensive French cognac، cheese and other high-end products.

Some 3،000 boxes were found - containing 30 bottles each - in a container aboard the freighter which reportedly belongs to a Chinese shipping company.

The shipment was illegal because sanctions forbid the export of luxury goods including alcohol to the North Korean regime.

The ship was set to make a stop in Rotterdam on its way to China after it picked up cargo in Hamburg، Germany. The container containing the alcohol was originally from Russia، it is reported.

Director of risk assessment at the Rotterdam Customs Arno Kooij said: 'A few days earlier we got the information of all incoming and outgoing containers of a ship. Our computer systems check that data.

'If for example something weird happens، or if a strange route has been taken or after we receive a tip، the system will select the container for a check.'

Kooij said 'we had the suspicion that this container fell under the sanctions regime against North Korea'.

'We had the suspicion that this vodka would not go to China، but to North Korea،' he added.

When Kooij and his colleagues contacted the shipping company involved، they were told that checking the container would be difficult as the fuselage of an aeroplane was stored on top of it.

Kooij said: 'The ship's owner said that it would be next to impossible to take the fuselage off the ship without it getting damaged.'

But Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Sigrid Kaag eventually gave customs workers the all clear to try to take the container out.

An official investigation into the vodka shipment has been started. Initial laboratory tests have concluded that the liquid inside the bottles is indeed vodka.
edited by: basant ahmed

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