Singapore Alleges Shipping Company Helped N.Korea Smuggle Arms

Singapore has filed charges against a shipping company it says was helping North Korea try to acquire illegal weapons.

Singapore-registered Chinpo Shipping Co. Ltd. was charged Tuesday with transferring $72,000 to a Panama shipping agent, knowing that the funds could be used to contribute to the "nuclear-related, ballistic missile-related, or other weapons of mass destruction-related programs or activities" of North Korea, the AP reported.

A Chinpo executive, Tan Hui Tin, 50, of Singapore, who is the daughter of Chinpo's chairman, was charged for withholding potential electronic evidence.

A police officer stands guard as investigation officers look inside a container holding military equipment aboard the North Korean-flagged freighter Chongchongang at the international container terminal at Colon City, Panama. /AP A police officer stands guard as investigation officers look inside a container holding military equipment aboard the North Korean-flagged freighter Chongchongang at the international container terminal at Colon City, Panama. /AP

Following an investigation, Singapore determined Chinpo was involved in a transaction involving an arms shipment seized last year by Panama.

The weapons were found on board a North Korean ship intercepted in the Panama Canal while on its way from Cuba to North Korea.

The weapons included two Soviet-era MiG-21s, missiles, air defense systems, and other arms that violated UN sanctions on Pyongyang.

A UN report earlier this year detailed how North Korea was using complex methods, including embassies, to get around the UN sanctions.

The report said the registered office address of Chinpo Shipping was the same as the North Korean Embassy in Singapore, though on a visit to the address in March a Reuters reporter was told the embassy had moved.

Chinpo Shipping could not be reached for a comment on the charges, Reuters reported.

In a statement, Singapore's foreign affairs and home ministries said the charges show the country is serious about preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.

VOA News / Jun. 11, 2014 08:29 KST