In the world there are enough small countries using not quite conventional methods of replenishing the treasury. Not all of these methods are illegal, but very often people who are far from moral principles use them.
Giving your flag to register a vessel has become one of these methods, and probably the most famous.
Even countries far from the sea register ships for a small fee, exempting shipowners from taxes and liability. The case turned out to be profitable, there is no end to customers.
Very often, unfortunately, they prefer convenient flags not only for understandable and, in principle, justified reasons – minimal taxation, the possibility of hiring cheap crews, minimal requirements for operation and safety.
Very often convenient flags are used for criminal purposes. The main advantage of registering under a convenient flag from the point of view of criminals is complete anonymity and the ability to hide the names of real owners, the history of the vessel and its voyages.
Courts of this kind present tremendous opportunities for criminal or terrorist communities — smuggling weapons, people, goods and drugs, laundering money or transporting large amounts of cash, and much more.
One of the most notorious was the flag of Cambodia. In 1994, Cambodia established its own registry – Cambodian Shipping Corporation Cambodian Shipping Corporation (CSC), based in Singapore. The beginning was modest, only 16 vessels in the first year of operation, but then the business began to develop rapidly.
According to CSC data, before its closure in 2002, 400-600 vessels were registered under the flag of Cambodia, but US intelligence agencies believe that in reality – at least twice as much. CSC offered the same as the others – registration of any vessel without a single unnecessary question, however, the corporation went much further.
CSC was the first registry to offer online registration on the Internet, with a guarantee of full registration within 24 hours. Nobody will blame Cambodia for becoming advanced in high-tech technology, but this was not required of her, because everything was done in Singapore. The step was bold, and he quickly paid off, customers tumbled down.
However, just as quickly, the police and special services of various countries began to report a sharp increase in crimes related to vessels flying the Cambodian flag.
Massive smuggling of cigarettes to Crete and Albania, illegal transportation of Iraqi oil during the embargo, smuggling of people, in particular prostitutes, in the waters of Japan and Crete, and of course, drugs. But they were not alarmed because of this habitual, so to speak, small things. Cambodian affairs very quickly became much more serious, the special services noted a sharp increase in arms smuggling.
“If you need to deliver a shipment of weapons somewhere, there is no better choice than a ship flying the flag of Cambodia,” experts said. And the Minister of Transport of Cambodia, in response to numerous questions about the wave of crime that engulfed the Cambodian flag, said simply and bluntly, “we don’t know and don’t want to know who owns the vessels under our flag and for what purpose – black is business, gray, or white, we are not at all interested. ”
In addition to criminalization, the Cambodian flag was also famous for its quality, which also caused serious concern for all organizations related to maritime safety. Of the 450 vessels officially registered by 2002, 25 were lost or were decommissioned after the accident, 41 collisions, 9 fires and 45 detentions occurred. 9 vessels were forbidden to sail in the waters of Europe, as they represented a threat not only to their own crews, but also to other vessels, as well as the environment.
By the summer of 2002, many reputable maritime international organizations demanded that measures be taken either to cease the activities of the CSC or to introduce them into some reasonable framework. CSC aroused increased interest among Americans and South Koreans by the fact that its close relationship with the DPRK quickly became clear, at least 12-14 North Korean vessels were registered under the CSC flag.
The close, friendly ties of the royal family of Cambodia with the North Korean regime have long been no secret. King Norodom Shihamuni speaks of DPRK extremely friendly, and during the years of genocide and the rule of the Khmer Rouge, the royal family found refuge in the DPRK, in Pyongyang.
Moreover, when the family returned to Cambodia, she was accompanied by DPRK diplomats, and the family was guarded by bodyguards of the DPRK special services. One of CSC’s main partners is Lim Yong Yong, a senior member of the DPRK Foreign Ministry. He is represented on the CSC as a private individual, and not as an official representative of the DPRK. North Korean courts are accused of many illegal acts, including drug trafficking, one of these ships was flying the Cambodian flag, although the CSC says that it does not know and does not want to know.