New Evidence Reveals Australian Firm’s Links to DPRK Coal

Mycal Ford

New Evidence Reveals Australian Firm’s Links to DPRK Coal

According to 2018 media reports, Sydney, Australia-based property developer Brigt Australia Pty Ltd allegedly falsified shipping documents and arranged a shipment of anthracite coal from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to Vietnam.

While media reports have claimed Brigt Australia has “no apparent experience in trading coal,” a Sayari investigation has revealed that the owner of Brigt Australia also owns another company in Singapore, Hartley Pte Ltd. This company openly advertises that it trades anthracite coal.

Hartley’s advertisements indicate that companies in Brigt Australia’s corporate group engage in coal trading, belying the company’s claim to have no links to the DPRK. Furthermore, these marketing materials provide additional evidence that the owners and operators of Brigt Australia may have violated United Nations (UN) sanctions.

Property Developer Arranges an Illicit Coal Shipment, Then Denies It

In September 2017, a Sydney-based property developer, Brigt Australia Pty Ltd, arranged a  $770,250 anthracite coal shipment from the DPRK to Vietnam. Livia Wang, Brigt Australia’s director, allegedly falsified documents related to the shipment, listing the origin of the cargo as Russia, even though the vessel that transported the shipment never docked there (see p. 22 of this UN report). UN Security Council Resolution 2371 prohibits all coal exports from the DPRK.

Sayari previously identified a network of individuals and companies associated with Brigt Australia. These included Chinese citizen Guo Hui, who owns Brigt Australia as well as another Sydney-based company, Hartley Global Consulting Pty Ltd. Livia Wang also serves as the director of both companies.

But representatives from both companies claim that they had no dealings with the DPRK. In fact, a spokesperson for Brigt Australia indicated that Hartley Global and Brigt Australia are now engaged in the horse trading business.

Associated Company Claims to Trade Coal

A closer look into the network of companies associated with Hartley Global Consulting, however, reveals connections indicating the company may be involved in the coal trade.

Public records reveal that Brigt Australia shareholder Guo Hui also has ties to a Singapore company, Hartley Pte Ltd. According to Hartley (Singapore)’s filings with Singapore’s corporate registry, Guo Hui holds a minority stake and serves as a director of the company.

Hartley (Singapore) previously maintained a website where it openly advertised how coal trading is a key part of its business (see Figure 1). Moreover, the company appears to engage in all aspects of the coal trade apart from mining itself. The company’s website emphasizes that Hartley collects, stores, processes, distributes, and handles logistics of coal trading. (While the website has no longer online, an archived version can be found here.)

Fig. 1: Screenshot of Hartley Pte Ltd.’s website.

In 2018, a UN panel published documents listing Brigt Australia as the shipper of coal originating from Russia. Other evidence published by the panel shows that the coal actually came from the DPRK (see Figure 2). Falsifying documents about a product’s origins is a technique frequently used to evade sanctions on the DPRK.

Fig. 2: Documents related to Brigt Australia’s trade in DPRK coal published by the UN Panel of Experts on the DPRK.

Conclusion

Although reports indicate that Brigt Australia has no apparent experience in coal trading, open source information indicates otherwise. Hartley (Singapore)’s website provides evidence that a company closely linked to Brigt Australia claims to be involved in coal trading. This new finding is an additional data point indicating that Brigt Australia and its owner may have violated UN sanctions.


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