Singapore firm convicted of transferring funds to Pyongyang

Singapore, Dec 14 (IANS) A Singapore-registered shipping company was convicted of transferring money which may be used for North Korea’s nuclear-related programmes, the media reported on Monday.

Chinpo Shipping Company in July 2013 sent $72,017 from its Bank of China account to a shipping agent which was managed by a North Korean company in Panama, Xinhua reported.

The money was believed to be a necessary payment for the transportation of the arms and related material from Cuba to North Korea, according to the report.

The offences were uncovered as the freighter Chong Chon Gang was detained in July 2013 when it tried to cross the Panama Canal with undeclared arms from Cuba.

Investigation into the case showed that the seized ship violated UN sanctions against North Korea.

The vessel was later allowed to go after its owner paid a heavy fine in February 2014.

A judge found that Chinpo conducted no due diligence of any kind before transferring the payment.

Between 2009 and 2013, Chinpo, on behalf of Pyongyang entities, applied for a total of 605 outward remittances totalling $40 million.

While Chinpo contended that it did not make the transactions for the purpose of profit, but just as a general and special agent for the entities, the judge maintained that anyone engaging in financial-related transactions must be aware of what the remittance is for.

According to the law, the maximum punishment for such violation is a fine of 100,000 Singapore dollars and five years in jail.

The case was adjourned till January 29, next year.

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