Man jailed, company fined for unlawfully supplying wines and spirits to North Korea

Lim Cheng Hwee pleaded guilty to three counts of unlawfully supplying the alcoholic beverages worth more than $530,000. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A managing director and his Singapore-based wholesale trading company unlawfully supplied goods - mainly wines and spirits - worth more than $745,000 to North Korea between 2013 and 2018.

Due to United Nations sanctions, it is illegal for anyone in Singapore to supply, sell or transfer designated luxury items to North Korean entities.

Singaporean Lim Cheng Hwee, 49, was sentenced on Friday (Dec 11) to two months' jail after he pleaded guilty to three counts of unlawfully supplying the alcoholic beverages worth more than $530,000 to North Korea.

The company SINSMS, which also provides freight forwarding services, was fined $30,000 after it was convicted of three similar charges.

Lim and the company each have six other charges linked to the remaining amount. They were considered during sentencing.

Lim's Singaporean wife, Hong Leng Ooi, also 49, who helped him with the firm's administrative operations, was fined $4,000 on Friday.

She pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to inform the authorities about the unlawful transactions.

Lim's alleged accomplices are Chinese national Liang Ye, 44, who was a director and shareholder of SINSMS, and North Korean Mun Chol Myong, 53. They are still at large.

Deputy Public Prosecutors V. Jesudevan, Koh Mun Keong and Sarah Thaker stated in court documents that some time before October 2016, Mun approached one Richard Goh, the director of a company called Mega-Tech Industries, for the purchase of wines and spirits to be exported from Singapore to Dalian in China.

The outcome of Mr Goh's case was not stated in court documents.

The DPPs added: "Mega-Tech would source for the wines and spirits ordered by Mun. The said wines and spirits would be stored in a licensed warehouse in Singapore.

"After Mega-Tech received full payment from Mun, Mega-Tech would release the wines and spirits to SINSMS, the freight forwarders appointed by Mun."

The court heard that Mun also informed Lim that the alcoholic beverages to be shipped by SINSMS to Dalian were bound for North Korea. Lim then instructed his firm to arrange for their freight from Singapore to Dalian.

Liang then arranged for the goods to be sent to Nampo in North Korea, the court heard.

SINSMS' profits for the shipments to North Korea ranged from about US$200 (about S$260) to US$500 per shipment, said the DPPs.

On her part, Hong took instructions from her husband and oversaw the administrative details for the supply of the goods to North Korea.

Hong Leng Ooi was fined $4,000. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

She had failed to inform the authorities despite knowing that they were unlawfully bound for the country.

For each count of unlawfully supplying luxury goods to North Korea, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to $500,000.

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