Watches and wine: Singapore files more charges over North Korea sanctions breaches

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore charged a citizen, a North Korean and three companies in court on Thursday with supplying prohibited luxury items to North Korea, the latest example of sanctions breaches in the wealthy Asian city-state.

The multiple charges against Singaporean Chong Hock Yen, 58, and North Korean Li Hyin, 30, span over six years and involve hundreds of thousands of dollars of perfumes, wines and watches in breach of U.N. sanctions, court documents seen by Reuters show.

Also charged on Thursday were three Singapore-registered companies linked to Chong - SCN Singapore Pte Ltd, Laurich International Pte Ltd and Sindok Trading Pte Ltd.

“Singapore takes its obligations under the United Nations Security Council resolutions seriously and implements them fully and faithfully,” Singapore’s police said in a statement.

“We will not hesitate to take action against any individual or entity that breaches our laws and regulations.”

Reuters could not immediately reach Chong, Li or officials of the companies to seek comment.

In July, a Singapore company official, Ng Kheng Wah, was charged for supplying luxury goods to North Korea in violation of U.N. sanctions.

Ng was also named in some of the charge sheets in Thursday’s case, as was a firm called T Specialist, that also featured in the July case.

Back in 2016, Singapore fined a shipping company based in the city state, Chinpo Shipping Company (Private) Ltd, S$180,000 for facilitating a shipment of arms to North Korea in violation of U.N. sanctions.

Charge sheets show Chong is alleged to have helped three companies supply items such as perfumes and cosmetics, jewelry, watches with precious metals and musical instruments to North Korea 43 times between 27 December 2010 and 18 November 2016. The charges against him relate to transactions totaling nearly S$600,000 ($435,666.57).

Li is alleged have helped two firms supply similar items, as well as wines and spirits, to North Korea, in 14 instances between 17 September 2014 and 5 January 2017 in deals worth more than S$400,000 ($290,444.38).

Singapore, the site of an unprecedented summit this year between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, says it complies with U.N. Security Council resolutions imposed on the North to persuade it to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile program.

Singapore suspended trade relations with North Korea in November last year, when the United Nations toughened sanctions over its weapons program.

Reporting by Fathin Ungku and John Geddie; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Neil Fullick