Two Singapore firms admit sending luxury items to North Korea despite sanctions
OCN admitted that T Specialist International would sell goods to buyer in China before being shipped to North Korea.
Two Singapore-registered firms continued to supply luxury products to North Korea, despite declaring they had stopped, according to a United Nations report.
The two firms were identified in the 378-page report released last week, as OCN (Singapore) and T Specialist International.
While they had initially denied any knowledge of how their products ended up in North Korea, they have since admitted that they were aware of the shipments' destination, according to the new report.
They had told a UN panel of experts as part of an earlier investigation that they had stopped shipping products to North Korea as of late 2012, and redirected shipments to Dalian, China, to enter the Chinese market.
The panel's investigations, however, uncovered photos of shopping bags from a shop in Pyongyang showing the words "OCN Group" in June 2017.
There were also photos of a wine bottle with an OCN (Singapore) label at the same shop in July 2017.
In response, the companies had said they had "no knowledge of the authenticity of the sale of goods" in North Korea, and also had "no knowledge of how any such goods ended up" there.
However, in the report released last week, it was revealed that when pressed, the companies admitted to having prior knowledge North Korea was actually the final intended destination of the shipments, which included items from Yamaha, Seiko and Montblanc.
OCN admitted that T Specialist International would sell the goods to a buyer in China, where it would be received by Chinese customs, before being shipped to North Korea.
This way, the Singapore firms would have no receipt of the transactions between the Chinese parties and North Korea.
T Specialist also told the UN panel that its products found in North Korean stores were originally intended to be shipped and sold in Cyprus.
"However, these products were not saleable in Cyprus, hence, our Chinese counterparty suggested that we sell the products in DPRK," said the firm, referring to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The director of both firms is Ng Kheng Wah, 56, who was charged in Singapore last July with supplying luxury goods worth about $6 million to North Korea and cheating banks of more than US$95 million (S$129 million). Both firms share the same Singapore address.
The UN has placed sanctions on North Korea since 2006, making it illegal to sell, among other things, luxury items to the country. Singapore has also banned such sales.
The latest report by the panel also gave more details about two of Ng's alleged conspirators, Chinese national Wang Zhi Guo and North Korean Li Ik.
Investigations revealed that Li left Singapore on June 8, 2017. He worked for OCN (Singapore) until January last year, when his employment pass was revoked.
Wang, a Singapore permanent resident since 2013, had his passport impounded on Dec 6 last year.
Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.