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S’porean wanted by FBI charged with falsifying invoices to hide sale of sugar to North Korea

SINGAPORE — A managing director and a shipping manager of a local commodities trading firm were charged in court on Friday (June 19) with falsifying documents to hide transactions with North Korean entities from two banks here.

S’porean wanted by FBI charged with falsifying invoices to hide sale of sugar to North Korea

Tan Wee Beng, director of Wee Tiong (S) Pte Ltd, was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted List in 2018 for allegedly violating international laws by doing business with North Korean entities.

SINGAPORE — A managing director and a shipping manager of a local commodities trading firm were charged in court on Friday (June 19) with falsifying documents to hide transactions with North Korean entities from two banks here.

The managing director, Tan Wee Beng, a 43-year-old Singaporean, is one of two directors of Wee Tiong (S) Pte Ltd. 

He was placed on the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s Most Wanted list in 2018 “for allegedly conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by doing business with North Korean proliferation entities”.

Tan and others in his company had “allegedly fulfilled millions of dollars in commodities contracts for North Korea” as far back as 2011, according to the FBI’s page on him.

The Singapore police said on Friday that Wee Tiong allegedly sold sugar to customers in North Korea between 2014 and 2016. Payments were purportedly made to Wee Tiong and its related company, Morgan Marcos Pte Ltd.

Court documents stated that Tan issued invoices showing that the purchaser of goods were several China-based firms, with the destination ports being places like Dalian, China and Dili, Timor Leste.

The company’s shipping manager, Bong Hui Ping, a 38-year-old Malaysian woman, is accused of intentionally aiding Tan to draft the invoices.

They allegedly did this between November 2016 and October 2017 in order to conceal the transactions from UOB and OCBC banks.

Both Tan and Bong face 20 charges under the Penal Code. They were each offered bail of S$15,000 and will return to court on July 17.

If convicted of falsifying papers with intent to defraud, they could be jailed up to 10 years, fined or both.

“The police take a serious view of persons who abuse Singapore’s financial system and will not hesitate to take swift action against the individuals or parties involved,” the Singapore police added in their statement on Friday.

The FBI previously said that on Aug 28, 2018, a US court had issued a federal arrest warrant for Tan after he was charged with offences such as bank fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to violate the IEEPA.

New York prosecutors accused him of conspiring to use the US financial system to finance shipments of goods to North Korea.

About two months later, Tan denied the charges against him in a phone call with the BBC. He said that he had only learned of the charges through news reports and was not contacted by either the FBI or Singapore police.

Wee Tiong was founded in 1993 by Tan’s father and generated an annual revenue of US$400 million (S$557 million), according to its website. 

Tan was named emerging entrepreneur of the year by multinational professional services firm Ernst & Young in 2011, an accolade handed out to local business leaders.

Related topics

shipping trading Wee Tiong Pte Ltd FBI court crime North Korea

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