Singaporean on FBI’s most wanted list charged with falsifying invoices to conceal trade with North Korea
SINGAPORE: A 43-year-old Singaporean managing director, who is on the US Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) most wanted list, has been charged with falsifying invoices of two companies to conceal transactions with North Korea-linked entities.
Tan Wee Beng, managing director of commodity trading company Wee Tiong (S), was charged in Singapore on Friday (Jun 19) with 20 counts of falsification of papers with intent to defraud.
Malaysian national Bong Hui Ping, 38, who is a shipping manager at the company, was charged with 20 counts of abetting those offences by intentionally aiding Tan.
Wee Tiong (S) is alleged to have sold sugar to customers from North Korea between 2014 and 2016, with the payments for those sales made to the company and its related firm, Morgan Macros.
Tan and Bong are accused of falsifying invoices of both companies between November 2016 and October 2017 in order to “conceal” the companies’ transactions with North Korea-linked entities from two banks, police said.
According to the charge sheets, Tan had issued invoices purporting to show that the purchasers were Chinese firms and that the destination ports were in Dalian, China and Dili, Timor-Leste.
He had issued the invoices despite knowing those details to be false and had done so "in order to conceal from UOB" that Wee Tiong (S) had transacted with entities linked to North Korea, the charge sheets added.
Anyone found guilty of falsifying papers with intent to defraud could be jailed for 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 force said.
FBI’S MOST WANTED LIST
A federal arrest warrant was issued for Tan in the United States District Court in New York in August 2018, an FBI notice said.
According to the notice, he is wanted for allegedly conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by doing business with North Korean proliferation entities.
The bureau said Tan and others in his company had allegedly fulfilled millions of dollars in commodities contracts for North Korea over several years, dating back to at least 2011.
“To do so, Tan Wee Beng allegedly made a concerted effort to launder money through the United States and Singaporean financial systems by concealing payment origins and structuring transactions to avoid regulator scrutiny,” the FBI said.
"In some cases, when wire payments were rejected, Tan Wee Beng and Wee Tiong (S) orchestrated payment in bulk cash, often hand-delivered by North Koreans.
"Over this period, Tan Wee Beng and his co-conspirators also allegedly knew of and took efforts to evade financial sanctions."
He was charged in the US with conspiracy to violate the IEEPA, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the United States.