Tuesday, 13 March 2018, a leaked UN report claimed 2 of the firms in Singapore had been supplying luxury goods with brands like Prada, Gucci, Armani, wines, spirits, and etc, into North Korea and their leader Kim Jung Un.
The report was told to be final, and ready to be published later this week.
According to BBC, Singapore’s government is aware of the case and investigation is underway where there was “credible information” of possible offences.
The two Singapore-based firms are OCN and T Specialist, which are sister companies that share the same director.
Both companies had denied wrongdoing despite the evidence.
The report accused two firms of supplying a wide range of luxury goods to North Korea, including clothes, wines and spirits, until as recently as July 2017.
Singapore goes under the “4.7% others” category according to the illustration.
UN sanctions banned countries from importing goods into North Korea since 2006. Singapore’s laws have also specifically banned trading of goods into the north for several years now.
The report states that “transactions valued at more than US$2 million (S$2.62 million)” had been flowing into an account that OCN and T Specialist set up in a North Korean bank, Daedong Credit Bank, to T Specialist’s bank accounts in Singapore.
T Specialist refuted UN’s allegations, claiming that the funds did not come from North Korea but a company registered in Hong Kong relating to the sales before 2012.
UN also accused the two companies of having “long-standing, close ties”, including ownership ties, with Ryugyong Commercial Bank, which had been put onto the US sanctions list in 2017.
The Singaporean companies said they have no interests in the bank, according to BBC.
Their lawyer, Edmond Pereira, has confirmed that they are under investigation from Singapore Authorities, but had refuted all claims regarding their ties with North Korea.
Mr Pereira acknowledges that his clients “have done business with North Korean entities… before the UN sanctions came into force”.
He added the companies had “reduced their involvement” in North Korea but that “these things take a bit of time”.
Lawyers have said that often companies are expected to be aware of the sudden change in UN law, when they are not given sufficient time to react.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) was made aware that UN also accused two of the Singapore banks were used by said companies to do dealing in North Korean banks.
The BBC contacted the two Singapore banks mentioned in the report but both banks declined to comment, citing Singapore’s banking secrecy laws.
North Korea had been under further sanctions after their continued nuclear tests and missile launches.