Egypt's Orascom Investment Holdings has reportedly been granted a special exemption from the UN allowing it to operate its Koryolink mobile venture in North Korea despite the heavier sanctions being imposed on the nation.
The UN Security Council has approved the operator's request for an official exemption allowing it to continue to operate Koryolink in a joint venture with North Korea’s Post and Telecommunication Company, Reuters reported.
This was confirmed by a recent tweet from the company’s chairman Naguib Sawiris. “Great news for me and Orascom Investment “ Congratulations, The United Nations just approved the exemption for Koryolink! Our mobile phone operation in North Korea ...may peace prevail,” he wrote.
According to reports, the exemption was granted because Koryolink was started prior to the imposed sanctions and is considered a utility provider of essential services to the people of North Korea.
But the UN Security Council's 1718 Committee on sanctions to North Korea, established in response to North Korea's nuclear testing, has yet to officially confirm the exemption.
A resolution passed by the security council last year would have required all foreign companies operating joint ventures with North Korean partners to suspend operations or receive a special exemption
Koryolink is North Korea's sole 3G operator, and Orascom owns a 75% stake in the venture. But the company has repeatedly faced problems extracting its profits from the venture due to sanctions as well as the difficulty exchanging North Korean won to overseas currencies.