sanctions 25 June 2020

DPRK national jailed in Singapore for supplying luxury items to Pyongyang

A 32-year-old North Korean national, Li Hyon has been convicted of four counts of breaches of Singapore’s sanctions regulations for supplying luxury items to North Korea, Singapore Police said on 23 June. Hyon has been jailed for four weeks. 

The force said that ‘investigations by the Commercial Affairs Department revealed that between 17 September 2014 and 5 January 2017, the accused had abetted two Singapore companies – T Specialist International (S) Pte Ltd and SCN Singapore Pte Ltd – to supply designated luxury items to the DPRK on 14 occasions. Li Hyon served as the contact liaison between the buyer in DPRK and the two Singapore suppliers. On three of these occasions, he also personally hand-carried the prohibited luxury items to the DPRK. The prohibited luxury items supplied on the 14 occasions include wines and spirits, perfumes and cosmetics and precious jewellery, valued at about $400,000.’   

It said that in November, ‘T Specialist International (S) Pte Ltd pleaded guilty to 10 counts of breaches of Regulation 5(a) read with Regulation 16(1) of the United Nations (Sanctions – DPRK) Regulations 2010, and punishable under Section 5(1) of the United Nations Act. It was fined $380,000 for the breaches. The court proceedings for SCN Singapore Pte Ltd are ongoing.’

In related news, a Singaporean trader, designated by the United States in 2018 and on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most wanted list for illicit trade with Pyongyang, has been charged in Singapore with falsifying papers to hide business relationships with customers from North Korea.

Tan Wee Beng, managing director of commodity trading company Wee Tiong, has been charged with 20 counts of falsifying papers with intent to defraud. Malaysian national Bong Hui Ping, 38, was charged with 20 counts of abetting those offences.

Wee Tiong is alleged to have sold sugar to customers from North Korea between 2014 and 2016 and falsifying invoices to ‘conceal’ transactions with North Korea-linked entities from two banks, police said.

Under Singaporean law, anyone found guilty of falsifying papers with intent to defraud can be jailed for up to 10 years, fined, or both.

A federal arrest warrant was issued for Tan in the United States District Court in New York in August 2018, according to an FBI notice which says he is wanted for allegedly conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (‘IEEPA’) by doing business with North Korean proliferation entities.

The FBI said that Tan and others in his company had allegedly fulfilled millions of dollars in commodities contracts for North Korea over several years, dating back to at least 2011. Tan denied any wrongdoing at the time.