Leaked UN report claims Singapore companies illegally exported luxury goods to North Korea

OCN’s previously-listed address is at a building along Joo Chiat Road.
The Straits Times

Two Singapore-based companies have violated United Nations (UN) sanctions by supplying luxury goods to North Korea, according to a leaked UN draft report cited in a BBC report on Tuesday (March 13).

The two firms named are sister companies OCN and T Specialist, which share the same director, BBC said. Both have denied any wrongdoing.

While the final report has been submitted to the UN Security Council and will likely be published later this week, the two companies are said to have supplied a range of luxury goods such as wines and spirits to North Korea as recently as July 2017.

Both the UN and Singapore ban the sale of luxury goods to North Korea.

According to the BBC, the UN report claims that between 2011 and 2014, “transactions valued at more than $2m (£1.4m)”  flowed from an account that OCN and T Specialist set up in a North Korean bank, Daedong Credit Bank, to T Specialist’s bank accounts in Singapore.

The proceeds are said to have come from the sale of goods to North Korea.

The Singapore companies said they have no interests in the bank, added BBC.

Their lawyer Edmund Pereira has confirmed that they are under investigation by the Singapore authorities.

Global sanctions against North Korea have tightened considerably over the last two years  as a result of Pyongyang’s ongoing missile tests and nuclear tests.

The Singapore government said it was aware of the cases and had begun probing whether there was “credible information” of possible offences, reported the BBC.

Business Insider has reached out to Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.

Website NK News first reported in July 2017 that Singapore-based company OCN had been involved in the import of sanctioned luxury goods to North Korea. The site reports solely on North Korea, with reporters based in other parts of the world.

The report also alleged that two high-end retail shops were also believed to joint ventures between North Korea and OCN, offering high-end watches, belts and wallets, among other items.

In a Straits Times report last July, the director of OCN was named as Singaporean Leo Ng Kheng Wah, then 55. In a phone interview, he said that the allegations were “all false”, and denied ever having exported prohibited items to North Korea.

Mr Ng did say that OCN, which was registered in 1988, was the exclusive distributor of Pokka canned drinks in North Korea between 2000 to 2012 but stopped exports entirely after Japan imposed a total embargo on exports there in 2012.

A check on the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) records showed that OCN is a shareholder of Malay wedding planning company Lagun Sari, which takes up most of the four-storey building.