Man jailed, firm fined for illegally supplying goods to North Korea

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 jailed for two months yesterday after he pleaded guilty to three counts of unlawfully supplying the alcoholic beverages worth over $530,000 to North Korea.

The company, SINSMS, which is also a freight forwarder, was fined $30,000 after it was convicted of three similar charges.

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

Lim's wife Hong Leng Ooi, also 49, who helped him with the firm's administrative operations, was fined $4,000 yesterday. The Singaporean pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to inform the authorities about the unlawful deals.

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.

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2020, with the headline 'Man jailed, firm fined for illegally supplying goods to North Korea'. Subscribe