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Pacific Aerospace boss during North Korea export sanction breach now works for NZTE

Trade promotion agency NZTE says its employment of the man who headed an aircraft maker fined for breaching United Nations sanctions by indirectly exporting replacement parts to North Korea considered his extensive experience of running an export business.

Damian Camp was chief executive of Hamilton-based Pacific Aerospace when it pleaded guilty in 2017 to three breaches of the UN sanctions against North Korea and one charge under the Customs and Excise Act.

He left Pacific Aerospace in 2019 after 12 years as chief executive.He is now an NZTE customer manager for specialised manufacturing, a job he’s held since September.

Pacific Aerospace was fined $74,805 in 2018 after a Customs prosecution. Earlier that year the Manukau District Council was told Pacific Aerospace sent three replacement parts to the new buyer of the plane, which was still under warranty, and knew it was in North Korea but assured the court it was for civilian use.

The planemaker, which has about 400 aircraft operating globally, in 2015 sold the Hamilton-made aircraft, a PAC P-750 XSTOL, to a Chinese firm, translated as FreeSky Aviation.

In September 2016 it turned up at North Korea’s first ever public airshow, which featured fighter jets and military helicopters, with a North Korean flag on its tail.

A popular use for the P-750 is skydiving and there was the potential for it to be used by paratroopers.

Asked to comment on Camp’s employment with NZTE, a written response said the agency was aware of his background, and the three breaches and one charge while he was chief executive.

Camp did not respond to a Herald approach for comment. NZTE said he would not be commenting.

“The issue, the consequences and the lessons learned by Damian were all discussed openly and honestly as part of the recruitment process,” said NZTE.

“NZTE also considered his background as a highly seasoned leader, with extensive experience of running an export business. Such experience is directly relevant to his role as a Customer Manager, providing support and advice to a portfolio of export companies.

“Since he began with NZTE in September, we have received very positive feedback from those exporters who have dealt with him.”

Camp was also a director of the company between April 2011 and February 2015.

He is a shareholder of Pacific Aerospace Limited now in liquidation. This company is a 50:50 venture between a subsidiary of Chinese giant Beijing Automotive, and New Zealand shareholders.

Camp was quoted in September 2016 as saying Pacific Aerospace had nothing to do with the North Korean matter and no involvement.

The court heard however that a UN Security Council report showed a chain of emails that suggested the company knew its plane was in North Korea and it had been contacted by the Chinese company for parts and training.

The Chinese counterpart emailed Pacific Aerospace regarding parts and saying that North Korean operators should be “trained ASAP for this aircraft operating”. Pacific Aerospace responded that it would co-ordinate training in China.

United Nations sanctions ban a wide range of exports and services to North Korea in response to the hermit state’s nuclear weapons programme.

Following the court fine, Pacific Aerospace said it accepted the penalty.

“We now better appreciate the complex sanctions issues associated with the export of aircraft and their parts, including in respect of indirect export provisions.

“We accept the sentence handed down by the court and we have put in place a number of policy and procedural checks to mitigate the risk of this happening again.”

The NZTE statement said as with all employees of the Government economic development and trade promotion agency, Camp had completed a “conflict of interest” declaration and any such conflicts, “whilst confidential, are managed appropriately according to our normal processes.”

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