A Singaporean businessman once lauded as a leading young entrepreneur has illegally laundered millions of dollars in funds for North Korea, US prosecutors have said.

Tan Wee Beng used commodity contracts to move funds for North Korean entities through the global banking system by transferring money through front companies.

Indictment and sanctions

A grand jury indictment charges Tan and others with moving money through the international banking system for North Korean entities between 2011 and 2018, violating international sanctions on the East Asian country.

Separately, the US treasury department imposed sanctions on Tan and two of his companies – Wee Tiong and WT Marine – both of which US officials say did business with North Korea.

Taking advice

The businessman, who was named entrepreneur of the year in 2011 by Ernst and Young, “conducted illicit transactions totalling millions of dollars in support of North Korean entities in blatant violation of a host of economic sanctions the United States has established against North Korea and North Korean entities,” according to an FBI statement.

Tan meanwhile took advice from sanctioned North Korean banks on how to move funds illicitly through the global banking system according to investigators.

Front companies

Money transfers involved front companies in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and elsewhere, the FBI says. Investigators also said that ships operated by Tan’s WT Marine engaged in sanctions-violating activities involving North Korea.

The FBI placed Tan on its “most wanted” list, saying his whereabouts are currently unknown.