Singaporean charged with supplying luxury items worth over $500k to North Korea

The unit of one of the firms linked to the Singaporean, Chong Hock Yen, in an industrial warehouse building at 102F Pasir Panjang Road did not display the names of its occupant firms outside its premises unlike other units on the same floor. ST PHOTO: TEE ZHUO
Floor guides located on the fifth and ground floors of the building did not list any of the three firms linked to Chong. ST PHOTO: TEE ZHUO

SINGAPORE - A Singaporean director of three local companies was taken to court for allegedly supplying to North Korea prohibited luxury items worth over $500,000.

Chong Hock Yen, 58, was charged on Thursday (Oct 18) with 43 counts of being involved in a conspiracy to illegally supply to the country goods such as perfumes, cosmetics, jewellery and watches clad in precious metals.

This contravenes the United Nations (Sanctions-DPRK) Regulations 2010, which prohibits people in Singapore or Singaporeans outside the country from selling or supplying any designated luxury item to anyone in North Korea.

These regulations give effect to sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council on North Korea to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Singaporean Ng Kheng Wah, 56, was charged with the same offence earlier this year.

Chong allegedly committed the offences between Dec 27, 2010, and Nov 18, 2016. He is said to have supplied the items to businesses in North Korea including the Bugsae Shop and Jangsaeng Trading Corporation.

His three companies: SCN Singapore, Laurich International (now known as Gunnar Singapore) and Sindok Trading (now known as BSS Global) - were charged with the same offence on Thursday. The firms share a Pasir Panjang Road address.

Chong allegedly committed the offences with three others, Lam Hong Lan, Li Ik and North Korean Li Hyon, who was also charged on Thursday.

There are no details on Lam and Li Ik in court documents.

Li Hyon, 30, is accused of 14 counts of being involved in a conspiracy to supply similar luxury items worth more than $400,000 to his home country. He allegedly committed the offences between September 2014 and January last year.

Chong and SCN Singapore were named in nine of Li Hyon's charges, which involved more than $160,000. The remaining charges allegedly involved Ng.

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.

He allegedly supplied luxury goods worth about $6 million to North Korea and cheated banks of more than US$95 million (S$130 million).

Chong was offered bail of $100,000 while Li Hyon's stood at $150,000. Ng was offered bail of $500,000.

The cases involving Chong and Li Hyon have been adjourned to Nov 14 while Ng will be back in court on Nov 8.

In a statement on Thursday, the police said: "Singapore takes its obligations under the United Nations Security Council Resolutions seriously and implements them fully and faithfully. We will not hesitate to take action against any individual or entity that breaches our laws and regulations."

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