Woman fined $10,000 for failing to alert authorities about company's business with North Korea

Sherly Muliawan pleaded guilty to five charges under the United Nations Act involving luxury goods worth more than $1.4 million in total. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A Singapore-based company unlawfully supplied luxury items worth more than $6 million to North Korea, and its shipping manager failed to alert the authorities about these transactions.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Grace Lim said that due to United Nations sanctions, it is illegal for a person in Singapore to supply, sell or transfer designated luxury items to anyone in North Korea. These include wines, cosmetics and perfumes.

Every person in Singapore who has information about such transactions must alert the authorities, said the DPP.

For failing to do so, Indonesian Sherly Muliawan, 41, who worked for general wholesale trade firm T Specialist International, was fined $10,000 on Wednesday (July 29).

She pleaded guilty to five charges under the United Nations Act involving luxury goods worth more than $1.4 million in total.

Seventy-four other similar charges linked to the remaining amount were considered during sentencing.

She is the second woman to be dealt with in court this month over such offences.

Singaporean Lam Hon Lan, 40, who worked for another firm known as SCN Singapore, was fined $6,000 on July 21 after pleading guilty to three charges under the Act.

On Wednesday, the DPP said Singaporean Ng Kheng Wah, 56, was a director and sole decision-maker for T Specialist.

The firm directly supplied the luxury items to the Korean Bugsae Shop in North Korea from November 2010 to January 2017.

The shop is owned by North Korean Li Ik, whose son, Li Hyon, had studied in Singapore before helping his father with the luxury goods business here.

DPP Lim said the items were sent to North Korea via transhipment through Dalian in China.

Ng had deliberately concealed the fact that they were destined for North Korea by failing to declare the final port of delivery to the Singapore Customs.

DPP Lim added that Li Ik, and later Li Hyon, would arrange for payment to be made to T Specialist through front companies in China and Hong Kong.

The court heard that Sherly, who is also a Singapore permanent resident, took instructions from Ng. Her job scope included sourcing for the luxury items and ensuring that the Korean Bugsae Shop made payments to T Specialist.

In July 2017, she became aware of negative news on North Korea and its nuclear activities.

She also came across a news article stating that Ng, through his company, had exported sanctioned luxury goods there.

Sherly failed to alert the authorities about T Specialist's transactions even after reading the report, said the DPP.

The following month, Singapore's Commercial Affairs Department filed a police report, stating that it received information that Ng and business entities related to him might have been involved in money-laundering activities.

Ng was sentenced to 34 months' jail in November last year after pleading guilty to 10 counts each of cheating and illegally supplying luxury items to North Korea. T Specialist was fined $880,000.

Li Hyon was jailed for four weeks last month after pleading guilty to four counts of engaging in a conspiracy with other people and two companies - T Specialist and SCN Singapore - to deliver luxury goods such as cosmetics and spirits to North Korea.

The case involving SCN Singapore is still pending.

Committing offences under the Act before March 10, 2014, can bring jail terms of up to five years and fines. Offences committed after March 10, 2014, can result in jail of up to 10 years and fines.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.