Two fined for flouting UN rule

Two fined for flouting UN rule
United Nations logo.

Two Singaporean men were fined yesterday for flouting United Nations (UN) rules by funding a person on a UN blacklist.

Soh Boon Hock, 61, and Wan Teck Guan, 59, pleaded guilty to paying the credit card and golf membership bills incurred by Indonesian businessman Joseph Wong Kiia Tai between 2004 and 2013.

Wong, an executive of Oriental Timber Company (OTC), was among those blacklisted by the UN Security Council in 2004 for providing military and financial support to former Liberia president Charles Taylor.

The case is the first invocation here of the United Nations (Freezing of Assets of Former President of Liberia and Connected Persons) Regulations 2004.

It was enforced through the Monetary Authority of Singapore. The UN Security Council Resolution 1532 states that it is illegal to financially support Charles Taylor or his associates.

Taylor, who led Liberia for six years till 2003, was convicted in 2012 of crimes against humanity by a special court in The Hague and jailed for 50 years. He was found responsible for abetting rebels in Sierra Leone who carried out atrocities such as rape and murder between 1996 and 2002.

OTC undertook logging operations in Liberia during his term and Taylor is alleged to have used revenue from the timber trade to fund his abuses.

Soh and Wan were charged last year.

Soh faced 108 charges involving about $825,000, over a period from January 2005 to February 2013.

Wan faced 22 charges for making cheque payments worth around $58,000 to Wong's credit card between October 2004 and June 2007.

Soh was convicted on 35 charges and fined $70,000, while Wan was convicted on seven charges and fined $14,000.

In mitigation, their lawyer, Ms Charmaine Neo, said Soh and Wan had known Wong for about 20 years. The company the duo worked for, Link Gold International, was funded by Wong's father. Soh and Wan also reported to Wong and his father.

The payments they made for Wong's principal and supplementary credit cards with DBS Bank and OCBC Bank were made on Wong's instructions, mainly from Link Gold's account.

Despite being aware of a UN travel ban on Wong - who was also free to enter and leave Singapore at will - Soh and Wan did not know that he was also on the UN asset freeze list.

This article was first published on March 06, 2015.
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