Two charged in Singapore with supplying luxury goods to N. Korea

SINGAPORE: Two men were charged in Singapore Thursday with supplying luxury goods, including jewellery and watches, to North Korea in violation of UN sanctions.

They were the latest examples of illicit trade through the global trading hub, which has been cracking down on the flow of banned goods to the nuclear-armed state.

A Singaporean man is accused of having helped companies provide luxury items to North Korea on 43 occasions between 2010 and 2016, police said.

Three companies linked to the man, named in local reports as 58-year-old Chong Hock Yen, have also been charged.

The second man, a North Korean named in reports as Li Hyon, is charged with abetting two companies to supply similar prohibited items, between 2014 and 2017, police said.

“Singapore takes its obligations under the United Nations Security Council Resolutions seriously and implements them fully and faithfully,” said a police statement.

“We will not hesitate to take action against any individual or entity that breaches our laws and regulations.”

Pyongyang has been hit with a series of United Nations sanctions aimed at forcing the hermit state to abandon its weapons programme.

But there have been several cases in recent years of companies and individuals in the city allegedly supplying banned goods.

A Singapore company director was charged in July with providing a wide range of luxury goods, ranging from wines and perfumes to jewellery, to North Korea.

In 2016, a shipping firm in the city was fined for its role in an attempt to smuggle Soviet-era weapons and fighter jets from Cuba to the North. The company was initially found guilty of two charges, but it was cleared of one count on appeal and had its fine reduced, local media reported.

Singapore suspended trade ties with the North last year as part of efforts to implement UN sanctions.

The city-state nevertheless maintains diplomatic relations with Pyongyang and in June hosted a historic summit between US President Donald Trump and the North’s leader Kim Jong Un. — AFP

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