Suspect in North Korea sanctions violation in Singapore, police say

A Singaporean businessman wanted by the United States on suspicion of violating North Korea sanctions is in the city-state where he is being investigated, Singapore police say .

In a statement on Saturday evening, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said it had sought clarification from its US counterparts on the reward as it kept the US informed of the ongoing investigation by local authorities.

The US State Department on Thursday offered $5 million for information on businessman Kwek Kee Seng, accusing him of numerous fuel deliveries to North Korea and ship-to-ship transfers as well as money laundering through front companies.

Federal prosecutors in New York in 2021 issued an arrest warrant for Kwek, a year after one of its tankers, the M/T Courageous, was seized by Cambodia at the request of the United States for violation presumed penalties.

Kwek, 62, owns shipping company Swanseas Port Services based in the city-state.

The State Department’s Rewards for Justice program had said its exact location was not known and it had also been identified as being in North Korea, Cambodia, Taiwan and Thailand, as well as Cameroon. and in the small Caribbean nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis.

But Singapore police said in their statement that “Kwek is currently in Singapore.”

This image released by the FBI shows Kwek Kee Seng’s wanted poster.

He has been under investigation since April 2021 by the Department of Business Affairs, the city’s white-collar crime investigation agency, and his passport has been confiscated.

Singapore police say the investigation was launched after the US Department of Justice announced that a criminal complaint had been filed against Kwek for ‘allegedly conspiring to evade economic sanctions’ against Korea of the North and for money laundering.

The SPF said it shared information about its investigation into Kwek with US law enforcement authorities.

“Since then, there have been several other exchanges. Due to the nature and complexity of the matter, investigations are still ongoing,” police said.

“On November 4, 2022, the SPF wrote to our US counterparts seeking clarification, given that we had been in active communication with our US counterparts on Kwek’s case,” he added.

“Singapore will continue to assist US authorities within the framework of our international laws and obligations,” he said.

The award comes as the United States urges strict enforcement of United Nations sanctions against North Korea since its recent missile launches, including a missile that landed near South Korean waters.

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