Fined for N. Korea dealings

A businessman on the United States’ FBI most-wanted list for allegedly laundering millions of dollars for North Korea was fined S$210,000 (RM65,000) in a Singapore district court over offences linked to that country.

Tan Wee Beng, now 44, who is the Singaporean managing director and shareholder of commodity trading firm Wee Tiong here, pleaded guilty to seven counts of falsifying invoices to hide his business dealings with North Korea from two Singapore banks. Another 13 similar charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.

He is also a director and shareholder of Wee Tiong sister company Morgan Marcos.

In a statement yesterday, the police said the a United Nations regulations prohibits anyone in Singapore or Singaporeans outside the city-state from supplying, selling or transferring any designated export or luxury item to people in North Korea.

From Nov 8, 2017, the prohibition includes all commercially traded goods to or from North Korea.

The court heard that Tan sold sugar to two North Koreans – Ri Nam-sok and Jon Chol-ho.

He began trading with Ri in 2007 or 2008 and Jon in 2010.

Tan’s lawyer, Josephine Chee, had earlier stressed that trade with North Korea was not illegal before Nov 8, 2017.

Between November 2016 and October 2017, Tan received queries from OCBC and UOB about certain deposits.

He knew the deposits were payments for goods sold to Ri and Jon, and was concerned that the banks would terminate their relationship with the firms if they found out about his dealings with them.

The court heard that Tan and Malaysian Bong Hui Ping, now 39, who was then working as a shipping manager at Wee Tiong, falsified invoices.

Bong changed the names of buyers and destination ports to remove any links to North Korea.

Tan signed and sent these invoices to UOB and OCBC Bank.

Tan is on the FBI’s most wanted list as he is accused of crimes including bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the US.

He allegedly worked with several other unnamed parties to move money through the international banking system for North Korean banks between 2011 and 2018, violating global sanctions on that country. — The Straits Times/ANN

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