Woman fined after failing to inform authorities about employer's unlawful business activities with North Korea

Lam Hon Lan faces 43 counts involving nearly $580,000 worth of luxury goods supplied to North Korea. PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A secretary was aware that her Singapore-based firm and related companies were unlawfully supplying luxury items to North Korea, but she failed to alert the authorities as she feared losing her job .

Singaporean Lam Hon Lan, 40, was fined $6,000 on Tuesday (July 21) after pleading guilty to three charges under the United Nations Act involving perfumes and cosmetics worth more than $82,000.

The court considered 40 other similar charges involving goods worth nearly $500,000 during sentencing.

United Nations sanctions prohibit people in Singapore or Singaporeans outside the country from selling or supplying certain luxury items to anyone in North Korea.

Anyone with information about such transactions must alert the authorities.

Police said in an earlier statement that Lam, who was working for SCN Singapore at the time of the offences, also handled administrative matters for two other firms - Sindok Trading and Laurich International.

The court heard on Tuesday that these companies unlawfully supplied luxury items to four North Korean organisations from December 2010 to November 2016.

One of them, the Korean Bugsae Shop, was owned by North Korean Li Ik.

Li Ik's son, Li Hyon, had studied in Singapore before helping his father with the luxury goods business here.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Thiam Jia Min said the bulk of the luxury items were supplied by SCN Singapore directly to the shop.

They were shipped to North Korea by air through Beijing or via freight vessels via Dalian in China, as well as by hand through airport check-ins.

Lam's job included sourcing the luxury items and issuing export documents, as well as arranging for shipments to the North Korean organisations.

The offences came to light after Singapore's Commercial Affairs Department received information that SCN Singapore had "significant sales" to more than one entity in North Korea.

Li Hyon, 32, was jailed for four weeks last month after pleading guilty to four counts of engaging in a conspiracy with other people and two companies - including SCN Singapore - to deliver luxury goods such as cosmetics and spirits to North Korea.

The cases involving SCN Singapore,Sindok Trading and Laurich International are pending.

Committing offences under the Act before March 10, 2014, can bring jail terms of up to five years and fines. Offences committed after March 10, 2014, can result in jail sentences of up to 10 years and fines.

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