Jail for man who supplied luxury items to North Korea

Chong Hock Yen, who supplied luxury goods worth nearly $580,000 to North Korea, was sentenced to three weeks' jail.
Chong Hock Yen, who supplied luxury goods worth nearly $580,000 to North Korea, was sentenced to three weeks' jail.

A director of three companies who unlawfully supplied luxury goods worth nearly $580,000 to North Korea was sentenced yesterday to three weeks' jail.

The items included perfumes, cosmetics and watches clad with a precious metal, as described in court documents.

Chong Hock Yen was the sole decision-maker and head of three locally based firms: SCN Singapore, Sindok Trading - now known as BSS Global - and Laurich International, which has been renamed Gunnar Singapore.

The 60-year-old Singaporean had pleaded guilty last month to eight counts of engaging in a conspiracy to supply luxury items worth nearly $270,000 to North Korea.

Another 35 similar charges for the remaining items were considered during sentencing.

The three firms also admitted to similar offences last month.

SCN pleaded guilty to six charges involving luxury goods worth more than $220,000, while Sindok and Laurich admitted to one charge each. Sindok's charge involved luxury goods worth more than US$10,000 (S$13,500) and Laurich's case was for goods worth US$12,000. SCN was yesterday fined $120,000, while Sindok and Laurich were each fined $10,000.

The court heard that due to United Nations sanctions, it is illegal for anyone in Singapore to supply, sell or transfer designated luxury items to North Korean entities.

It also heard that the companies supplied luxury items to four entities in North Korea from December 2010 to November 2016 - Bugsae Shop, Korea Jangsaeng Trading Corporation (Pyongyang), MG Corporation and New Hope Joint Venture Corporation (Pyongyang).

SCN had supplied the bulk of the goods to Bugsae Shop, which is owned by North Korean Li Ik.

His son, Li Hyon, had studied in Singapore before helping his father with the luxury goods business while being based here.

The goods were sent to North Korea in three different ways: by air and sea through China, and by hand through airport check-ins.

Chong was aware that such transactions were in breach of the law.

On Sept 25, 2017, Singapore's Commercial Affairs Department received information that SCN had "significant sales to more than one entity" in North Korea.

Li Hyon was jailed for four weeks earlier this year after pleading guilty to four counts of engaging in a conspiracy with other people and two companies, including SCN, to deliver luxury goods such as cosmetics and spirits to North Korea.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2020, with the headline 'Jail for man who supplied luxury items to North Korea'. Subscribe