Singaporean firms added to North Korean sanctions

   The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Thursday placed two entities and one individual in Singapore on its specially designated nationals list. 
   The entities are Wee Tiong (S) Pte Ltd. and WT Marine Pte Ltd., which are owned and operated by Singaporean national Tan Wee Beng. 
    According to OFAC, Tan and at least one other individual in his company starting in 2011 began carrying out “millions of dollars” in commodities contracts for North Korea. Tan attempted to hide his transactions, and when a wire payment was rejected, he organized a payment in bulk cash, hand delivered to North Korea. It’s also alleged that he has engaged in illegal narcotics trafficking with North Korea.
   In related action, the U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday unsealed criminal charges in a six-count indictment against Tan. 
   “Tan Wee Beng and his co-conspirators made deliberate efforts to launder money through the U.S. financial system on behalf of North Korea,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “Governments, financial institutions and other companies worldwide need to be on high alert to these types of schemes. The U.S. government will not overlook these deceptive practices. We are deeply committed to the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea, and Treasury will continue to enforce and implement sanctions until that time.”
OFAC also added Tan’s two Singapore-flagged cargo vessels, JW Jewel and Nymex Star, to the specially designated nationals list for their role in his North Korean smuggling scheme.
   OFAC said its actions against Tan and his companies “makes clear that the United States will not hesitate to impose sanctions on any individual, entity or vessel supporting North Korea’s illicit activities, regardless of nationality.”