Singapore ‘working’ with UN on alleged North Korea sanctions breach

(FILES) This undated file picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 12, 2015 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the Sin Islet defence company in Kangwon province, while his younger sister Kim Yo-Jong (3rd L) follows. Kim Yo-Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, will visit the South this week for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Seoul said on February 7, 2018./ AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / - / - South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT

Singapore said Tuesday it was “working closely” with the United Nations after a leaked draft report said two local firms sold luxury items to North Korea in violation of UN sanctions.

The UN report, cited by the BBC, alleges that the two Singaporean companies and other firms in Asia had been supplying luxury goods, including wine and spirits, to North Korea until as recently as July 2017, despite the sanctions aimed at forcing Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons programme.

Despite an agreement for a meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Washington has called on the UN Security Council to maintain sanctions until there is real progress towards scrapping Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme.

“We note the mention of certain Singapore individuals and entities in media reports citing the leaked report from the UN Panel of Experts. Singapore is working closely with the UN Panel on these cases,” the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a statement sent to AFP on Tuesday.

“Where there is credible information of offences committed by individuals or entities under Singapore law, the Singapore authorities will act expeditiously and undertake investigations.”

There was no immediate comment from Singapore’s foreign ministry.

MAS, Singapore’s central bank and financial regulator, did not name the companies which the UN report said appear to have used the city’s financial system to trade with North Korea.

But MAS vowed to take “stern action” on local financial institutions violating the sanctions.

Singapore in November last year suspended all trade ties with North Korea.

“With the tightening of UN sanctions against the DPRK, MAS has stepped up its supervision of financial institutions to focus on the prohibited DPRK-related activities,” MAS said, using North Korea’s formal name.

“MAS is making a series of onsite supervisory visits to banks that have been identified through intelligence received or through sweeps by MAS of suspicious transactions.”

The central bank said it and other relevant Singapore agencies have been in “close contact” with the UN and other foreign authorities to help enforce the sanctions.