German car manufacturer Daimler, which made the armoured limousines used by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during his Vladivostok summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, says it has no dealings with Pyongyang and has no idea how he got hold of their high-end vehicles.
“We have absolutely no idea how those vehicles were delivered to North Korea. For Daimler, the correct export of products in conformance with the law is a fundamental principle of responsible entrepreneurial activity”, the company’s spokeswoman Silke Mockert said in a statement to AP.
Under UN sanctions, the sale of luxury goods to North Korea is prohibited, but still Kim has repeatedly used the limos made by the Stuttgart-based company at various summits, including with US President Donald Trump in Singapore and Hanoi.
In Vladivostok, Kim had a Mercedes Maybach S600 Pullman Guard and a Mercedes Maybach S62 waiting for him at the station as he arrived for a meeting with President Putin.
“Our company has had no business connections with North Korea for far more than 15 years now and strictly complies with EU and US embargoes. To prevent deliveries to North Korea and to any of its embassies worldwide, Daimler has implemented a comprehensive export control process”, she added.
At the same time, Daimler acknowledged that it had no control or responsibility over the actions of third parties.
Photos of Kim Jong-un’s Mercedes limousines first emerged in 2014, while sanctions on the sale of luxury goods were introduced in 2006 following Pyongyang’s first nuclear test. The German-made vehicles are estimated to have been worth over $1 million each at the time of acquisition.
While it’s unclear how many Mercedes the North Korean fleet is boasting, back in 2015, a panel of experts looking into sanctions violations for the UN Security Council reported that Pyongyang had two modified versions of S-Class Mercedes-Benz limos, which had been armoured by an unnamed North American company before making their way to North Korea. The report also determined that two other limos were not Pullman versions, but had been modified by a third party.
The following year, the panel of experts concluded that the customisation of at least two of the vehicles had allegedly been done in the United States before the cars arrived in China and were then transferred to North Korea.