Director accused of supplying goods to North Korea


The city skyline of Pyongyang. North Korea has been under sanctions by the United Nations since 2006, making it illegal to sell, among other things, luxury items to the country.
The city skyline of Pyongyang. North Korea has been under sanctions by the United Nations since 2006, making it illegal to sell, among other things, luxury items to the country. PHOTO: AFP

A Singaporean company director was charged in court on Thursday with supplying luxury goods worth about $6 million to North Korea and cheating banks of more than US$95 million (S$130 million).

Ng Kheng Wah, 55, the director of two Singapore-registered general wholesale trade companies - T Specialist International and OCN (Singapore) - is accused of 80 counts of offences under the United Nations Act and 81 cheating charges.

T Specialist also faces 80 charges under the United Nations Act. In addition, it is accused of eight counts of dealing with the benefits of criminal activities.

The United Nations has placed sanctions on North Korea since 2006, making it illegal to sell, among other things, luxury items to the country. Singapore has also banned the sale of these items to North Korea for several years.

Ng, who is also the managing director of a third Singapore-registered company, TTAT Investment, is accused of starting his crime spree in Nov 23, 2010.

He allegedly conspired with T Specialist and two people - Sherly Muliawan and Li Ik - to supply musical instruments and watches "clad with a precious metal" to the Bugsae Shop in North Korea that day. The items were worth a total of US$49,781.30.

From then until Jan 5 last year, Ng is said to have worked with them to supply more luxury items to the shop.

According to court documents, he allegedly supplied the store with other items such as wines and spirits, perfumes, cosmetics and "precious jewellery".

Ng is accused of committing similar offences with a third person, known only as Li Hyon, from January 2016. There were no details on Muliawan, Li Hyon and Li Ik in the court documents.

The court heard that Ng is accused as well of engaging in a conspiracy with one Wang Zhi Guo and T Specialist to cheat banks. On Jan 3, 2014, he allegedly instructed T Specialist to give DBS Bank a bogus invoice to support its application for a trade financing loan.

Court documents stated the invoice was purportedly issued by a company known as Pinnacle Offshore Trading to T Specialist for the sale of Pokka milk coffee worth US$522,410. DBS was later duped into paying the amount to Pinnacle Offshore Trading. From then until August 2016, Ng allegedly used a similar ruse to deceive other banks into making payments to Pinnacle Offshore Trading.

Ng was offered bail of $500,000 and will be back in court on Aug 30.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2018, with the headline 'Director accused of supplying goods to N. Korea'. Print Edition | Subscribe