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Beverage exporter charged with illegally exporting Pokka drinks worth S$340,000 to North Korea

SINGAPORE — A wholesale trading firm that primarily exports beverages was charged on Wednesday (May 25) with exporting Pokka products to North Korea, in breach of United Nations (UN) sanctions.

Beverage exporter charged with illegally exporting Pokka drinks worth S$340,000 to North Korea
Two firms have been charged for allegedly exporting beverages to North Korea despite a trade ban.

SINGAPORE — A wholesale trading firm that primarily exports beverages was charged on Wednesday (May 25) with exporting Pokka products to North Korea, in breach of trade restrictions.

The company, 123 Duty Free Pte Ltd, faces five charges under Singapore’s Regulation of Imports and Exports Regulations.

Court documents stated that it exported Pokka beverages — such as premium milk coffee, melon milk and strawberry milk — worth a total of about S$340,000. This purportedly took place from April 10 to Aug 8 in 2018.

If convicted, the company could be fined up to S$100,000 or three times the value of the goods involved, whichever is greater, for each charge.

The case first surfaced in 2019 and was first reported by NK News, a website that follows developments in North Korea.

NK News had reported that Pokka Singapore was still seeking to export its products to Pyongyang in 2018 despite a trade ban. 

Since 2006, the United Nations (UN) has been tightening sanctions on North Korea in response to its nuclear programme. Singapore has had to suspend trade with North Korea.

Pokka’s parent company is Japan-based Pokka Sapporo Group. Tokyo and North Korea also have an ongoing trade ban.

The Singapore authorities then said that they were investigating the alleged export of these products.

SECOND CASE

Separately, another alcohol distribution company — 123 Holdings Pte Ltd — was also charged on Wednesday with similar offences.

It allegedly supplied wines and spirits, which are designated luxury items, worth about S$720,000 to people in North Korea via China. Court documents showed that this purportedly took place from November 2016 to July 2017.

It now faces five charges under the UN (Sanctions – Democratic People's Republic of Korea) Regulations 2010. Each offence carries a fine of up to S$1 million.

Under the United Nations Act, any person in Singapore, or Singaporeans outside of the country, are banned from selling or supplying luxury items to the reclusive state.

Both companies’ cases were adjourned to June 27.

WHAT POKKA SAYS

In a statement, Pokka Singapore said it has never had a known relationship with 123 Duty Free. However, between April and August 2018 Pokka supplied certain products to 123 Holdings. 

"This was done with the clear expectation that these products would be distributed in compliance with the law. Pokka has not been charged with any offences relating to the export of its products to North Korea and is committed to complying with all national laws and UN sanctions, including ensuring that it has no dealings with North Korea," Pokka said.

"Pokka has a strict management policy not to trade with distributors that export to North Korea directly or indirectly."

The company added that it would immediately suspend business with customers, in and outside Singapore, that are suspected of trading in North Korea.

Related topics

court crime North Korea United Nations Pokka export drinks alcohol

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