Singapore 'closely studying' U.N. report on North Korea arms trade

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore’s government was “closely studying” a United Nations report that linked a local company to a North Korean firm involved in the sales of arms, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

The U.N. report sent to the Security Council and released this week identified Glocom as a front company run by North Korean intelligence agents that sells battlefield radio equipment in violation of UN sanctions.

Glocom is operated by the Pyongyang branch of a Singapore-based company called Pan Systems, said the U.N. report compiled by its panel of experts on compliance with sanctions on North Korea. The panel cited an invoice and other information it obtained.

Pan Systems Singapore’s Managing Director Louis Low, 79, said he knew about Pan Systems Pyongyang but did not set it up or operate it. In written answers to U.N. questions about its links to North Korea, seen by Reuters, he said he did not know about Pan System Pyongyang’s alleged involvement in the arms trade.

In an email response to questions from Reuters, a spokesperson for Singapore’s ministry of foreign affairs did not say whether any authority was investigating Pan Systems: “I am unable to provide information on our current internal processes.”

“The Singapore Government will not hesitate to prosecute individuals/entities that fail to comply with Singapore legislation giving effect to measures prescribed by the UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs),” the spokesperson said.

The government was “closely studying” the report and will take the necessary steps to ensure Singapore’s compliance, said the spokesperson, who did not want to be named.

The U.N. panel in its report recommended sanctions against Pan System Pyongyang.

For graphic on 'Glocom's connections to North Korea' click:


Low told Reuters last week he had not been approached by Singapore authorities about the report and that he copied the foreign ministry into his correspondence with the U.N in December of last year.

“How come we are involved in so many things which we do not even know or heard of? Your assumptions are wrong. It is not true. Pan Systems Pyongyang is not a Branch of Pan Systems (S) Pte Ltd,” Low wrote to the U.N. sanctions panel.

The U.N. report, citing undisclosed information it obtained, said Pan System Pyongyang and Glocom were controlled by members of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, the North Korean intelligence agency tasked with overseas operations and weapons procurement.

“This shows how the Bureau enables its key agents to generate revenues for its operations through such networks,” the report said.

Pan Systems Pyongyang had a network of bank accounts, front companies and agents, mostly located in China and Malaysia, to procure components and sell completed systems, the report said.

Pan Systems Pyongyang used Malaysia as a base for its key representative abroad and for the companies that have acted on its behalf, the report said. Low told the U.N. and Reuters that he did not know about the existence of a Pan Systems branch in Malaysia.

A joint venture he had in Malaysia went bankrupt 25 years ago and he hasn’t had an office there since then, Low told Reuters.

Malaysia, which for years has been one of North Korea’s few friends outside China, on Saturday rejected any suggestion it may have violated U.N. sanctions on North Korea after Reuters reported that its spy agency had been running an arms sales operation in the country.

Malaysian-North Korean ties have soured after the killing of Kim Jong Un’s estranged half-brother at the Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb 13.

Reporting by Marius Zaharia. Editing by Bill Tarrant