U.N. sanctions experts investigate Rodman's North Korea trips
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A group of United Nations sanctions experts has been investigating former basketball star Dennis Rodman because of gifts he brought to North Korea during his visits to the reclusive state, according to an excerpt from the group's latest report.
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taken luxury items as gifts when he visited Pyongyang in September and December 2013 and January 2014," the experts' unpublished report says.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 report says.
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The former basketball star's trips had previously been financed by Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, although it has since withdrawn its backing.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 vodka brand.
"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." Continued...