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Former Director and shareholder of Wee Tiong (S) Pte Ltd pleads guilty to DPRK linked transactions

12 Oct 2021

The former Director and shareholder of Wee Tiong (S) Pte Ltd (WTPL), also the Director of sister company Morgan Marcos Pte Ltd (MMPL), pleaded guilty over several Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) related transactions at the State Courts of Singapore on Monday (11 October).

Specifically, Tan Wee Beng faced 20 charges under section 477A of the Penal Code (Cap. 224) (PC) for falsifying invoices of two companies; he has pleaded guilty to seven proceeded charges and consented to have the remaining 13 charges taken into consideration.

Between November 2016 and October 2017, Mr Tan falsified at least 20 invoices and submitted these invoices to UOB and OCBC, according to court documents obtained by bunkering publication Manifold Times.

As at November 2016, the credit facilities granted by UOB to companies in the Wee Tiong group totalled about SGD 125 million; this included SGD 38.678 million, a USD 1 million credit line, foreign exchange facilities of SGD 5 million, as well as vessel and property term loans granted to WTPL.

MMPL maintained bank accounts with UOB, while WTPL maintained bank accounts with OCBC.

Mr Tan knew the information he was hiding was important and relevant to the banks, and could have resulted in the termination of WTPL’s lines of credit should the financial institutions find out about the its DPRK related dealings, stated court documents.

Transactions of sugar and other goods with DPRK-linked entities

From 2007 or 2008, Mr Tan started trading with Korea Heung Song Trading Co, Dandong Fuda Coal Trading Co Ltd, and Tongyuan Industrial Co Ltd which were amongst firms owned by Ri Nam Sok (Ri) from DPRK; payments for the goods relating to Ri were received into WTPL’s UOB bank account.

Further, from 2010, Mr Tan started trading with Korea Investment and Development Co and Qinglin Trading Co Ltd which were firms owned by DPRK national Jon Chol Ho; payments for the goods relating to Jon were received into MMPL’s UOB bank account.

UOB and OCBC started queries of deposits between 2016 and 2017

Mr Tan started receiving queries from UOB in November 2016, March 2017 and October 2017, and from OCBC in September 2017 concerning certain deposits of monies into WTPL and MMPL’s bank accounts.

Knowing the consequences should the banks find out of the DPRK related transactions, he sought the help of co-accused Bong Hui Ping who was working as a shipping manager at WTPL to conceal the illicit activities from UOB and OCBC.

Hui Ping assisted Mr Tan to prepare false invoices in the name of WTPL and MMPL by changing the names of the end buyers and in some cases, also the destination ports, of the false invoices to remove any references to Jon and Ri’s companies and DPRK ports.

Mr Tan signed and shared the false invoices with UOB and OCBC while lying the queried deposits were payments made for purchases of goods by companies other than Ri and Jon’s companies.

In total, Mr Tan falsified seven papers belonging to WTPL and MMPL to conceal from UOB and OCBC that WTPL had transacted with an entity linked to the DPRK.

OFAC action against Wee Tiong Group companies

Manifold Times in October 2018 reported the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designating marine fuels company WT Marine Pte Ltd, WTPL, and Mr Tan for laundering money in support of North Korea.

According to OFAC, in 2017 the JW JEWEL (IMO: 9402964) and NYMEX STAR (IMO: 9078191), both Singapore-flagged oil tankers operated and managed by WT Marine Pte Ltd, engaged in illicit economic activity that involves or supports the Government of North Korea.

In June 2020, Mr Tan was charged in Singapore for 20 alleged counts of forgery to cover his tracks from banks after having sold sugar to parties from North Korea from his company Wee Tiong Pte Ltd and its affiliated firm, Morgan Marcos.

Related: Singapore marine fuels firm WT Marine in OFAC sanctions blacklist
Related: Singaporean MD on FBI most wanted list charged with fraud over North Korean dealings


Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 12 October, 2021

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