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North Korean jailed for helping to supply S$404,000 worth of luxury goods from Singapore to North Korea

North Korean jailed for helping to supply S$404,000 worth of luxury goods from Singapore to North Korea

File photo of the North Korean flag. (Photo: Reuters/Pierre Albouy)

SINGAPORE: A North Korean man who studied in Singapore helped his father and conspired with others to have S$404,000 worth of luxury goods supplied from Singapore to North Korea, an act that is prohibited under the United Nations Act.

Li Hyon, 32, was sentenced to four weeks' jail on Tuesday (Jun 23), after pleading guilty to four charges of abetting the supply of prohibited luxury goods to North Korea under the United Nations Act. Another 10 charges were taken into consideration.

The court heard that Li Hyon studied in Singapore before 2014, after which he helped his father Li Ik with his luxury goods business.

He helped his father to source for goods in Singapore to be supplied to Li Ik's Korean Bugsae Shop in North Korea.

Li Ik travelled frequently to North Korea from late 2014 to early 2017 and was not easily contactable, due to communication restrictions imposed by North Korea.

Li Hyon became the bridge of communication for his father and Singaporean suppliers T Specialist International, a general wholesale trade company, and SCN, a wholesaler of commodities.

As a contact liaison, Li Hyon placed orders for luxury goods on his father's behalf with T Specialists and SCN, checked on the shipment statuses of imports and facilitated payments.

He knew that supplying luxury items from Singapore to North Korea was prohibited by law, but carried on with his crimes, hand carrying luxury items to North Korea on three occasions.

In June 2015, Li Hyon helped the director of SCN supply S$32,870 worth of perfumes, cosmetics and watches with precious metals to Li Ik's Korean Bugsae Shop.

Between January 2016 and January 2017, he assisted T Specialist's director Ng Kheng Wah in the supply of wines and spirits worth more than S$238,000 to the Korean Bugsae Shop.

READ: Director of firm that supplied more than S$6 million in luxury goods to North Korea gets jail

In total, he assisted the companies and directors involved to supply more than S$404,000 worth of luxury goods to North Korea.

The Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore Police Force received information in September 2017 that SCN had significant sales to more than one entity in North Korea, and investigations subsequently ensued.

Prosecutors asked for one to two months' jail for Li Hyon, noting that his actions have "undercut" the North Korea sanctions regime and "impacted Singapore's international standing and reputation".

Li played a crucial and instrumental role of liaising between the Singaporean suppliers and his father's shop in North Korea, with his accomplices relying solely on him to contact Li Ik when Li Ik was in North Korea.

"As Li Ik made the decisions on the purchases for the Korean Bugsae Shop, it would not have been possible for the 14 orders which are the subject of the charges to go through without Li Hyon's involvement," said the prosecution.

T Specialist was fined S$880,000 last year, while its director Ng was sentenced to two years and 10 months' jail for a variety of offences.

For each charge under the United Nations Act, Li Hyon could have been jailed for up to 10 years, fined up to S$500,000, or both.

Source: CNA/ll(mi)


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