The US Department of the Treasury has imposed sanctions against Singapore-based companies and their director for evading sanctions targeting North Korea. 

Tan Wee Beng, the director and shareholder of a Singapore-based commodities trading company Wee Tiong Holdings is accused of hiding the origin of payments and structuring transactions in order to help acquire goods for North Korea in contravention of sanctions. Two vessels tied to a company for which Tan is the managing director were also sanctioned for being involved in economic activity with North Korea (likely the shipment of goods into North Korea). 

The sanctions evasion scheme is believed to have involved millions of dollars worth of financial transactions including the financing of shipments of goods to North Korea. It also involved the use of front companies in Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong. Daedong Credit Bank was used to launder money and make payments in support of this activity. 

Analysis: The use of a complicit financial institution makes sanctions evasion and money laundering easier to accomplish and reduces the risk of being caught. The use of front companies also helps obfuscate the origin and destination of funds. Both of these methods are well-known DPRK sanctions-evasion techniques. 

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Compliance, illicit financing, Money Laundering, sanctions evasion


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