Latvia-linked company sanctioned by U.S. over North Korea arms

A company characterized as Turkish but seemingly registered as a company in Latvia has been blacklisted by the United States Department of the Treasury over alleged links with the North Korean regime.

The company, SIA Falcon International Group is the subject of sanctions "for attempting to trade arms and luxury goods with North Korea" according to an official notice posted by the U.S. Treasury October 4. 

“SIA Falcon International Group and individuals acting on its behalf are blatantly attempting to flout longstanding UN sanctions on trade in weapons and luxury goods with North Korea. The international community must not stand idly by as UN sanctions are being circumvented,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

"SIA Falcon is involved in weapons and luxury goods trade with North Korea, although it purports to operate in various other sectors and geographies, including defense, transportation, logistics, and management and investment consulting.  It also operates a branch office in Latvia," says the Treasury. 

Falcon International Group is described as "Turkey-based" but the the prefix "SIA" stands for "Sabiedriba ar ierobežotu atbildību," the Latvian equivalent of a public limited company. Sure enough it appears in the Latvian business register as the operator of a cattle farm in Baldone district just outside Rīga. It was registered in 2014.

Falcon International Group's website lists the farm in rural Latvia as its "Riga office" with the other office being in Istanbul.

The website also contains a bizarre brochure of the company's activities in a dazzling variety of fields, with some of the images showing jumbo jets and supertankers bearing the company logo clearly having been doctored. It suggests a picture of a company perhaps claiming to be able to do more than it really can. The website itself uses a pre-made template and even mis-spells the company name as SAI Falcon at the bottom of each page.

The U.S. Treasury also personally sanctioned Huseyin Sahin. the Chief Executive Officer of SIA Falcon, who holds 100 percent of the voting capital and Erhan Culha is a general manager of SIA Falcon. According to the information from the Treasury, earlier in 2018, SIA Falcon officials hosted North Korean government official Ri Song Un in Turkey "to negotiate trade deals involving weapons and luxury goods."

The Baldone address is shared with another Latvia-registered company by the name of "SIA Sahin" which has the same telephone number.

LSM tried calling the Latvian contact numbers of the companies but they were either inactive or not answered. 

Now were we alone in trying to contact Falcon. The Bloomberg newswire had a story October 16 saying Latvian banks were being checked to see if they had links to the sanctioned company - which would be significant given the action taken by U.S. regulators earlier this year in connection with ABLV bank, which subsequently went into liquidation.

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