Singaporean wanted by US detained in Batam

Lim Yong Nam was arrested at Batam Centre ferry terminal when he sought to enter Indonesia on Thursday morning after getting off a ferry from Singapore's HarbourFront Centre. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Lim Yong Nam was arrested at Batam Centre ferry terminal when he sought to enter Indonesia on Thursday morning after getting off a ferry from Singapore's HarbourFront Centre. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

A Singaporean wanted by the United States for allegedly breaching a US trade embargo against Iran - and whose extradition to the US was rejected by a Singapore court two years ago - has been detained by Indonesian Police in Batam.

Lim Yong Nam, 40, was arrested at Batam Centre ferry terminal when he sought to enter Indonesia on Thursday morning after getting off a ferry from Singapore's HarbourFront Centre.

Indonesian National Police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar told The Straits Times that Lim's name was found to be on an Interpol Red Notice in connection with conspiracy to defraud the United States.

"He is currently being processed by the Riau Islands Police in Batam," Mr Boy said on Friday night.

A red notice is issued when a particular country wants the cooperation of other countries to locate and arrest a person with a view to extradition or similar action, when there is an arrest warrant or court order for him in the requesting country.

But The Straits Times understands that it is a request for cooperation, and not legally binding.

In Lim's case, he had - together with three other Singaporeans and an Iranian national - been indicted by the Department of Justice in 2011 for conspiring to allow electronics components from the US to be illegally exported to Iran rather than to their stated final destination of Singapore.

Lim was the owner and director of NEL Electronics, and was accused of acquiring 6,000 radio frequency modules for export to Iran together with Ms Wong Yuh Lan, an agent of another electronics company.

The US alleged that 16 of the modules were later found in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq that had not detonated.

The US had sought the extradition of all four Singaporeans, but Singapore's High Court in 2012 allowed Lim's appeal, together with that of Ms Wong, then 39, as it found the wrongdoing he was accused of by the US authorities was not an offence in Singapore.

In his judgment on the case, Justice Choo Han Teck said the actions of the two did not satisfy the “double criminality” required under the extradition treaty between Singapore and the US, which means the act had to be an offence in both jurisdictions.

Justice Choo noted that the US sought the extradition of Lim and Wong for their involvement in a conspiracy to breach trade sanctions of goods, even though Singapore had no such comparative legislation.

The other two Singaporeans were however extradited as they had illegally exported military-use antennas, which are controlled goods, to Singapore.

Both men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the US by dishonest means, and were sentenced by a US federal court in 2013.

Lim Kow Seng, then 44, was handed a 37-month prison term while Benson Hia Soo Gan, then 46, got a 34-month jail term.

zakirh@sph.com.sg