SINGAPORE: Authorities here have started investigations into the two Singapore-based companies accused of supplying luxury goods to North Korea in violation of United Nations sanctions, said Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Wednesday (Mar 14).
"Our authorities have commenced investigations into these companies. However, we are unable to provide additional details as investigations are ongoing," said an MFA spokesperson in response to Channel NewsAsia's queries.
"Singapore will continue to cooperate closely with and aid the UN panel in its investigations as far as possible."
The two firms in question are OCN and T Specialist, sister companies which share the same director.
According to a BBC report on Tuesday, citing a leaked draft of a UN report, more than US$2 million (S$2.62 million) in transactions between 2011 and 2014 flowed from an account that the two companies set up in a North Korean bank, Daedong Credit Bank, to T Specialist's bank accounts in Singapore.
The transactions were allegedly proceeds from the sale of goods in North Korea.
The final UN report, which has been submitted to the UN Security Council, is likely to be published later this week, BBC added.
Under UN sanctions, it is illegal to directly or indirectly supply luxury goods to North Korea.
MFA stated on Wednesday that Singapore takes its obligations under the United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) "seriously" and "implements them assiduously".
"We are one of the few countries that submit detailed National Implementation Reports to the UNSC in a timely manner," said the MFA spokesperson.
"Singapore will not hesitate to take action against any individual or entity that breaches our laws and regulations which give effect to the UNSCRs."
MFA, MAS STEP UP SUPERVISION
With the tightening of UN sanctions against North Korea, Singapore’s central bank too has stepped up supervision of financial institutions (FI).
Said MFA: "Singapore prohibits our financial institutions from providing financial assistance or services for or facilitating any trade with the DPRK, and requires them to remain vigilant against proliferation financing risks.
“The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will take stern action against any FI in breach of regulations relating to proliferation financing.”
Singapore’s central bank had on Tuesday told Channel NewsAsia that it is “making a series of onsite supervisory visits to banks that have been identified through intelligence received, or through sweeps by MAS of suspicious transactions”
Singapore has "continuously stepped up" counter-proliferation efforts, specifically with respect to North Korea, said MFA.
"Through the Regulation of Imports and Exports Regulations, we have instituted prohibitions on the import, export, transhipment in or transit through Singapore of items prohibited by the UNSCRs, including luxury goods and commercially traded goods that are imported, exported, transhipped or brought in transit from or to the DPRK.
"We have also restricted work authorisations for DPRK nationals in accordance with the UNSCRs," MFA stated.