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S’porean fined S$6,000 for involvement in S$500,000 illegal shipment of luxury goods to North Korea

SINGAPORE — Afraid that she would lose her job, a secretary of a Singapore-based firm helped her boss and others supply about S$500,000 worth of luxury items such as perfume and cosmetics to North Korea in violation of United Nations sanctions.

S’porean fined S$6,000 for involvement in S$500,000 illegal shipment of luxury goods to North Korea

A cityscape of North Korea. Lam Hon Lam, 40, a Singaporean, violated United Nations sanctions by helping to arrangement the shipment of luxury goods to the country.

  • 40-year-old woman fined S$6,000 for arranging shipment of luxury goods to North Korea
  • She did so despite knowing it contravened a United Nations Act
  • The woman was acting on the instructions of her employer, who also knew it was unlawful
  • The woman said that she did so as she was afraid of losing her job

 

SINGAPORE — Afraid that she would lose her job, a secretary of a Singapore-based firm helped her boss and others supply about S$500,000 worth of luxury items such as perfume and cosmetics to North Korea in violation of United Nations sanctions.

On Tuesday (July 21), Lam Hon Lan, 40, pleaded guilty to three charges of breaching a United Nations Act that prohibits any person in Singapore, or Singaporeans outside of the country, from selling or supplying luxury items to North Korea.

The Act also states that anyone with information about such transactions must alert the authorities.

Lam, a Singaporean, was fined a total of S$6,000 for these three charges, which involved perfumes and cosmetics worth more than S$82,000.

Forty similar charges were taken into consideration during sentencing. In all, the total value of goods involved was S$492,300 and US$61,600 (S$85,445).

Deputy Public Prosecutors (DPPs) Thiam Jia Min and Grace Lim said that Lam was working as a secretary for commodities wholesale trader SCN Singapore at the time of the offences between December 2010 and November 2016.

Chong Hock Yen, 59, the director of SCN Singapore, had a 95 per cent stake in the company and interests in two other Singapore firms as well.

They were Sindok Trading, which was in the business of general wholesale trade, and Laurich International, which dealt with the wholesale trade of industrial machinery. Laurich was renamed Gunnar Singapore in August 2016.

The prosecutors said that Chong was the sole decision maker of the three companies whose main business was to supply goods to North Korea.

In her role as secretary, Lam took instructions from Chong and oversaw the administrative details for the supply of designated luxury items from the three firms to entities within North Korea, which included a department store chain called Korean Bugsae Shop owned by a North Korean citizen named Li Ik.

The prosecutors said that Li Ik's now 31-year-old son, Li Hyon, had studied in Singapore before helping his father with the luxury goods business here.

Lam’s job scope included sourcing the luxury items and issuing export documents, as well as arranging the shipments to North Korea.

The bulk of the luxury items were supplied by SCN Singapore directly to Li Ik’s Korean Bugsae Shop, and they were sent to North Korea via China either by air through Beijing or freight vessels via Dalian. Some items were also carried by hand through airport check-ins.

The goods were shipped in 43 batches over six years on the instructions of Chong, who knew he was breaching the law, the prosecution said.

The DPPs added that during this period, Lam knew what her company was doing was against the law, but she did not want to report the matter to the authorities as she was afraid of losing her job.

The offences were finally uncovered on Sept 25, 2017 after Singapore's Commercial Affairs Department received information that SCN Singapore had "significant sales" to more than one entity in North Korea.

Last month, Li Hyon was sentenced to four weeks' jail after pleading guilty to four charges of abetting the supply of prohibited luxury goods to North Korea under the Act. Another 10 charges were taken into consideration.

The cases involving SCN Singapore, Sindok Trading and Gunnar Singapore are pending.

The penalty for breaching the Act before March 10, 2014, was a fine of up to S$100,000 and a jail term of up to five years. Offences committed after March 10, 2014 can result in jail terms of up to 10 years or a fine, or both.

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shipping UN regulation North Korea court crime

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