Authorities probing Singapore firms accused of selling luxury goods to North Korea

Members of the Security Council at a United Nations Security Council meeting in New York on Feb 24, 2018.
Members of the Security Council at a United Nations Security Council meeting in New York on Feb 24, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Two local companies accused of violating United Nations (UN) sanctions are being investigated by the authorities here, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) told The Straits Times on Wednesday (March 14).

A leaked UN report claimed that Singapore-based firms OCN and T Specialist were supplying luxury goods to North Korea until as recently as July last year.

Under UN sanctions, it has been illegal to sell luxury items to North Korea since 2006. Singapore's laws have also banned the sale of these items to North Korea for several years.

The MFA added that Singapore will continue to cooperate closely with the UN Panel of Experts in its investigations.

"Singapore takes its obligations under the United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) seriously, and implements them assiduously. We are one of the few countries that submit detailed national implementation reports to the UNSC in a timely manner," said an MFA spokesman.

These reports are sent by member states to show how UN Resolutions are implemented.

"Singapore will not hesitate to take action against any individual or entity that breaches our laws and regulations which give effect to the UNSCRs," the spokesman added.

 
 
 

OCN and T Specialist are sister companies sharing the same director, Mr Leo Ng Kheng Wah.

Lawyer Edmond Pereira, who represents the two companies, said on Tuesdaythat the firms had been trading with North Korea since the mid-2000s but both started whittling down trading activities after sanctions were imposed in 2006.

The goods traded included food items, beverages, electronics, and Seiko and Citizen watches, he added.

The leaked UN report claims that between 2011 and 2014, transactions valued at more than US$2 million (S$2.6 million) - allegedly proceeds from the sale of goods in North Korea - flowed from an account set up by both companies in a North Korean bank, Daedong Credit Bank, to T Specialist's bank accounts in Singapore.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore said it and other local agencies are working with the UN, but declined to name the banks being investigated.

The final UN report has been submitted to the UN Security Council and is likely to be published later this week.