Man with US$5m bounty on his whereabouts over North Korea oil shipments 'presently in Singapore': SPF
Kwek Kee Seng, the owner of Swanseas Port Services shipping company, has been under investigation by the Commercial Affairs Department since Apr 28, 2021.
SINGAPORE: A Singaporean businessman with a US$5 million bounty on his whereabouts by the US State Department is currently in Singapore and his passport has been impounded.
In response to CNA's query, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said that Kwek Kee Seng is presently in Singapore, and that he has been under investigation by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) for offences under Singapore’s United Nations Act 2001 since Apr 28, 2021.
"Kwek’s passport has been impounded by the CAD since the same date," added SPF.
The US State Department on Nov 3 offered a reward of US$5 million through its Rewards for Justice programme for information about the Singapore-based businessman already accused of facilitating fuel shipments to North Korea in violation of UN sanctions.
Kwek, who owns the Swanseas Port Services shipping company in Singapore, was charged by US authorities last year with arranging the deliveries, with prosecutors alleging that he used front companies and false documentation to hide the scheme. Officials say that business helps enable North Korea's nuclear proliferation programmes.
CRIMINAL COMPLAINT BY US JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
According to SPF, the US Department of Justice on Apr 23, 2021 announced that a criminal complaint had been filed against Kwek for allegedly conspiring to evade economic sanctions against North Korea as well as for money laundering.
It added that a tanker Courageous (previously known as Sea Prima) had been seized. Courageous was a vessel allegedly purchased by Kwek to make illicit deliveries of petroleum products through ship-to-ship transfers with North Korean vessels, and direct shipments to the North's port of Nampo.
SPF started formal investigations against Kwek on Apr 28, 2021 for possible offences under Section 5 of the United Nations Act 2001.
On Apr 29 that year, SPF issued a news release confirming that Kwek was being investigated for possible offences under the Act.
A day later, the SPF shared information on the investigations against Kwek with the US law enforcement authorities via a letter.
The information was formally conveyed by Singapore to various US agencies through a Third-Party Note on May 7, 2021.
Since then, there were several more exchanges, said SPF, adding that investigations are still ongoing "due to the nature and complexity of the case".
SPF added that it wrote to its US counterparts on Nov 4, 2022 to seek clarification, given that it "had been in active communication" with its US counterparts on Kwek’s case.
"Singapore will continue to assist the US authorities within the ambit of our laws and international obligations."