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    Jun 11, 2014

    Illegal arms: S'pore firm charged

    SINGAPORE said yesterday it has filed criminal charges against a company implicated in an illegal shipment of arms seized near the Panama Canal on a North Korean container ship last year.

    Chinpo Shipping Company has been charged with transferring financial assets or resources that may reasonably be used to contribute to North Korea's weapons programmes, which are subject to United Nations sanctions.

    The charges come after a UN report in March named Chinpo Shipping as helping arrange the shipment of Cuban fighter jets and missile parts that were bound for North Korea when they were seized in Panama last July.

    The charge sheets said that Chinpo Shipping had transferred US$72,106.76 (S$90,000) to a Panama shipping company last year, when it had reason to believe that the money might be used to contribute to North Korea's weapon programmes.

    The firm was also charged with carrying out a remittance business without a licence between 2009 and 2013.

    Singaporean Tan Hui Tin, a shareholder and director of the company, was also charged with intentionally helping Tan Cheng Hoe, another director of the company, to omit to produce records requested by a police officer, Singapore's Attorney-General's Chambers said.

    The registered office address of Chinpo Shipping was the same as that of the North Korean Embassy in Singapore, though on a visit to the address in March a Reuters reporter was told the embassy had moved.

    Chinpo Shipping could not be reached for comment on the charges.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs said in a joint statement: "Singapore takes a serious view of our international obligations to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and related materials."

    If convicted under the United Nations (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) Regulations, the company could be fined up to S$1 million. The maximum penalty for the second charge is a S$100,000 fine. If convicted, Mr Tan could be jailed for up to one month and/or fined up to S$1,500.