While the U.N. Panel of Experts, an independent body that
monitors compliance with the United Nations' North Korea sanctions
regime, did not explicitly accuse Rodman of violating the U.N. ban
on luxury goods, it suggested his actions may have represented a
breach of international restrictions on Pyongyang.
"The panel also investigated allegations that Dennis Rodman and his
party may have taken luxury items as gifts when he visited Pyongyang
in September and December 2013 and January 2014," the experts'
unpublished report says.
On his January trip, Rodman was accompanied by a contingent of other
former National Basketball Association players for an exhibition
game in Pyongyang. He sang "Happy Birthday," to Kim Jong Un at a
celebration marking what was believed to be his 31st birthday.
"Media reports ... corroborated by the panel indicate that among
items taken by Dennis Rodman and his party during their visits were
sporting goods from various countries, five bottles of vodka (United
States) taken by Rodman and one bottle of whiskey (Ireland)," the
In an excerpt seen by Reuters, the report also refers to other
gifts, including "two whiskey glasses and one whiskey decanter
(Ireland), and a Mulberry handbag (United Kingdom) taken by Paddy
Power, a company based in Ireland."
The former basketball star's trips had previously been financed by
Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, although it has since withdrawn its
backing. Rodman used his first visit in 2013 to promote his own
"The panel considers that this (the Rodman case)
illustrates the importance of informing individuals and companies of
their obligations under the (Security Council sanctions)
resolutions," the report said. "It is continuing in its enquiries."
[to top of second column]
There is a U.N. ban on the export of luxury goods to North Korea
under sanctions imposed by the Security Council in response to
Pyongyang's 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests and several missile
The athlete's most recent visit to Pyongyang became controversial
after an agitated, drunken Rodman gave an interview to CNN from
North Korea in which he suggested that Kenneth Bae, an American
missionary imprisoned in North Korea, was responsible for his own
Rodman checked himself into a substance abuse rehabilitation center
shortly after returning from North Korea in January.
Last year, the Panel of Experts said North Korea continued to
violate the U.N. ban on luxury goods, which is intended to punish
the country's ruling elite. The panel cited suspected violations of
the ban involving alcohol, tobacco, electronic items, automobiles
The Panel of Experts has also looked at the case of a North Korean
cargo ship, the Chong Chon Gang, detained near the Panama Canal for
holding Cuban weapons. The ship was seized in July 2013 for
smuggling Soviet-era arms, including two MiG-21 aircraft, hidden
under 10,000 tons of sugar.
Several Security Council diplomats told Reuters on condition of
anonymity that in the Chong Chon Gang case, the experts determined
that North Korea had used a network of firms based abroad, including
in China — its standard method of trying to avoid detection while
violating the U.N. arms embargo.
(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; editing by G Crosse)
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