It turns out that Rodman’s recent affinity with North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un might land him in jail for violating United States law and several United Nations’ resolutions.
So where exactly did Rodman’s attempt at diplomacy go wrong?
On his third and most recent trip to Pyongyang this month, The Daily Beast reports that Rodman reportedly brought several gifts for the young Kim’s 31st birthday. They allegedly included hundreds of dollars’ worth of Irish Jameson whiskey, European crystal, an Italian suit, a fur coat, and an English Mulberry handbag for Kim’s wife, Ri Sol-ju — not to mention several bottles of Rodman’s own Bad Ass Vodka.
Now the U.S. Treasury Department is investigating whether Rodman violated the law that prohibits the importing of luxury goods into North Korea. That law is called the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), as implemented by Executive Order 13551, which President Obama signed in 2010, which makes it a violation of U.S. law for any person determined by the Treasury and State Departments “to have, directly or indirectly, imported, exported, or reexported luxury goods to or into North Korea.” Specifically,
Section 1. (a) All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person, including any overseas branch, of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in
Violating this law can lead to civil penalties of up to $250,000 or twice the value of the illicit transaction as well as criminal penalties of up to $1 million in fines and up to 20 years in prison.
UNSCR 2094 specifically orders in Section 16 that
[A]ll States shall inspect all cargo within or transiting through their territory that has originated in the DPRK, or that is destined for the DPRK, or has been brokered or facilitated by the DPRK or its nationals, or by individuals or entities acting on their behalf, if the State concerned has credible information that provides reasonable grounds to believe the cargo contains items the supply, sale, transfer, or export of which is prohibited by resolutions 1718 (2006). . .
Unfortunately for Rodman, Resolution 1718 forbids any transfer of goods or assets into North Korea that is not “necessary for basic expenses, including payment for foodstuffs, rent or mortgage, medicines and medical treatment, taxes, insurance premiums, and public utility charges.”
It is hard to imagine Rodman convincing anyone that his own vodka is necessity. Then again, maybe it is a great pain killer.
For now Rodman is laying low in rehab, but his lawyers are sure to be hard at work trying to keep him out of jail and his assets away from the freezing hands of the Treasury Department.