Austrian Guilty Over Lavish Birthday Presents for Kim Jong-il

      December 08, 2010 11:32

      An Austrian businessman has been slapped with a 3.3 million euro fine and a nine-month suspended sentence for selling luxury goods to North Korea in contravention of UN sanctions. The goods purchased from the Austrian are thought to be birthday gifts for North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

      The Criminal Court of Vienna found the entrepreneur guilty of violating the international trade embargo, the Kurier daily reported Tuesday. The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1874 in 2009, imposing further economic and commercial sanctions on the communist state, including a ban on the sale of luxury goods to the regime. The name of the man was not disclosed.

      Prosecutors initially indicted the entrepreneur for supplying two top-end Azimut Benetti yachts to North Korea. He also allegedly sold eight Mercedes S class cars and several Steinway grand pianos, dealing with a North Korean intermediary close to Kim Jong-il.

      But the man was rumbled through monitoring of illegal dealings in Italy. Austrian Court official Christian Gneist said the entrepreneur was fined the exact amount he received as payment.

      He said the man admitted the offense but pleaded mitigating circumstances saying he did not know he was part of the crime. "It doesn't have anything to do with atomic bombs. I am not interested in politics. I am a businessman," Reuters quoted him as saying. Shipwrights Azimut Benetti of Italy avoided punishment as they merely sold the yachts and cooperated with the investigation, according to Italian police.

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