Dennis Rodman 'investigated for violating sanctions' against North Korea

Former NBA star's lavish birthday gifts for 'friend for life' Kim Jong-un may have violated international sanctions imposed on North Korea

Maria Tadeo
Friday 24 January 2014 19:32

Dennis Rodman is reportedly being investigated by the US Treasury on suspicions that he violated sanctions against North Korea by splashing thousands of dollars in luxury gifts for Kim Jong-un.

On his fourth trip to Pyongyang, the former NBA player allegedly showered "friend for life" Kim with expensive gifts to celebrate his 31st birthday. These reportedly included Irish Jameson whiskey, a fur coat, an Italian suit, several bottles of his "Bad Ass Premium Vodka" brand and a Mulberry handbag for his wife, Ri Sol-ju.

A US official told the Daily Beast the Treasury Department is investigating whether Rodman violated US sanctions under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act signed by President Barack Obama in 2010, which makes it illegal for US citizens to "import, export, or reexport" luxury goods to or into North Korea.

Rodman's gifts also appear to violate UN sanctions imposed on North Korea prohibiting "the provision of luxury goods" adopted in 2007. These were reinforced last year after the country conducted its third nuclear test in February 2013.

Eugene Cottilli, a spokesman for the US Department of Commerce, told The Independent: "The Department is aware of the media allegations that Dennis Rodman may have transported luxury goods to North Korea.

"Our regulations require a licence for the export or re-export to North Korea of all US-origin items except food and certain medicines."

He added: "We do not comment on possible or pending investigations, and have no further comment at this time."

Michael Spavor, a Canadian consultant based in China, who joined Rodman on his trip to North Korea, posted a picture on his Twitter account where the former basketball player is seen standing next Kim and what appears to be five bottles of Rodman's "Bad Ass Premium Vodka".

Spavor declined to comment.

Rodman, 52, attended Kim's birthday celebrations earlier this month accompanied by a team of former NBA players to play friendly game against the communist state to honour the dictator, who is believed to have turned 31.

Rodman checked into a rehabilitation centre last week seeking treatment for his problems with alcohol. His agent, Darren Prince, said the retired NBA star had returned from North Korea in "rough shape emotionally".

Prince said Rodman had been drinking when he commented on the case of detained American missionary Kenneth Bae in a bizarre interview with CNN, for which he later apologised after he swore and shouted at presenter Chris Cuomo when asked if he would use his influence to help Bae.

A spokesperson for the US Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence said: "We cannot comment on possible investigations".

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