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December 2015
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Singapore firm convicted of aiding N. Korean arms shipment

Singapore firm convicted of aiding N. Korean arms shipment

SINGAPORE (AP) — A Singapore-registered shipping company was found
guilty Monday of transferring tens of thousands of dollars used to
transport fighter jets and surface-to-air missile systems from Cuba to
North Korea in 2013.

The haul, hidden under heaps of sugar and discovered by Panamanian
authorities, was the biggest load of arms and related materials ever to
be intercepted on its way to or from the isolated North.

In announcing the verdict, Singapore District Judge Jasvender Kaur said
the firm, Chinpo Shipping Company, could have contributed to the
nuclear-related programs or activities of North Korea.

The company was also found guilty of running a remittance business
without a valid license for more than four years.

Chinpo had wired $72,017 from its Bank of China account to a
Panama-based shipping agent in July 2013 for the return passage of the
MV Chong Chon Gang through the Panama Canal.

The MV Chong Chon Gang was managed by the North Korean company Ocean
Maritime Management, a longtime client of Chinpo.

That month, Panamanian authorities found the ship loaded with arms and
related materials weighing 474 tons, including two MiG-21 fighter jets,
anti-tank rockets and SA-2 and SA-3 Russian surface-to-air missile
systems. The military equipment was bound for North Korea and hidden
under 10,500 tons of sugar in the cargo hold.

Instead of asking its client for documentation to find out what the
remittance was for, the company failed to conduct due diligence, the
judge said.

“Accordingly, the prosecution does not have the legal burden of proving
that the defendant company knowingly transferred that sum,” she said.
“Chinpo was aware of the U.S. and United Nations sanctions against DPRK.
Since the second half of 2010, Chinpo stopped indicating the name of
vessels in the outgoing remittance forms.”

DPRK is the acronym for the North’s official name, the Democratic
People’s Republic of Korea.

Defense lawyer Edmond Pereira argued that the company did not conduct
remittance transactions for purposes of gain, and that remittances were
contingent to its role as Ocean Maritime Management’s general and
special agent.

Chinpo had applied for a total of 605 outward remittances totaling $40
million from 2009 to 2013 on behalf of North Korean entities. Chinpo’s
director, Tan Cheng Hoe, also heads associated companies Tonghee
Shipping Agency and Great Best Trading.

When The Associated Press visited Chinpo’s listed address, another
company said it has occupied the premises for more than a year. The case
was adjourned until Jan. 29 to give prosecution and defense lawyers time
to make submissions.

Chinpo violated a United Nations law adopted by Singapore that prohibits
the provision of financial services, assets or resources to North Korea
that “may be reasonably be used to contribute to the nuclear-related,
ballistic missile-related, or other weapons of mass destruction-related
programs or activities.” The maximum sentence is a fine of 100,000
Singapore dollars ($71,000) and five years in jail.

North Korea recently has threatened to flex its nuclear muscles. The
country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, said Thursday that the North had
developed a hydrogen bomb — a step up from the less powerful atomic
bomb. The U.S. and others have raised doubts about the claim.

Source: Singapore firm convicted of aiding N. Korean arms shipment –
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