U.S. imposes North Korea-related sanctions on Singapore firms

FILE PHOTO: A sign marks the U.S Treasury Department in Washington, U.S., August 6, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on two Singapore-based companies and a man accused of money laundering through the U.S. financial system to evade sanctions against North Korea, the department said in a statement on Thursday.

The United States said the person targeted by sanctions, Tan Wee Beng, a director and shareholder of a Singapore-based commodities trading company, Wee Tiong Holdings Pte Ltd, hid the origins of payments and structured transactions to fulfill millions of dollars in North Korean contracts since at least 2011.

The Treasury Department also imposed sanctions on two vessels tied to a different company for which Tan is a managing director, and which the United States says engaged in illicit economic activity connected to North Korea.

The Justice Department unsealed criminal charges against Tan, Treasury said. Tan was charged with bank fraud, money laundering and defrauding the United States, according to an FBI notice. The arrest warrant was issued for Tan last August.

A representative for Wee Tiong Holdings Pte did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Jonathan Oatis