Duo linked to UN-blacklisted man charged

Two Singaporeans were charged in the State Courts here last week after they allegedly flouted United Nations (UN) rules, by helping a Malaysian blacklisted for his links to a disgraced former African leader. Soh Boon Hock, 61, and Wan Teck Guan, 59, are said to have paid off various bills incurred by Malaysian businessman Joseph Wong Kiia Tai, who is on a UN list of prohibited persons.

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.

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 criminally responsible for helping and abetting rebels in neighbouring 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 under the (Freezing of Assets of Former President of Liberia and Connected Persons) Regulations 2004 promulgated through the Monetary Authority of Singapore, invoked here for the first time.

Soh faces 108 charges involving about $825,000, allegedly used to help Wong between 2005 and last February.

He is said to have supplied Wong with a supplementary credit card with a $30,000 credit limit in 2005, for which Soh is the principal cardholder.

Soh is director of Link Gold International, a general wholesale trading firm also implicated in the case.

He is also alleged to have made a cheque payment for $2,915 from a bank account in the company's name to fund the credit card expenses of Wong.

Wan is the principal shareholder of the firm.

He is accused of using a bank account in the company's name to pay several of Wong's credit card debts in 2004.

Wan faces 22 charges involving some $55,000, said to have been committed between October 2004 and June 2007.

No plea was taken when the duo defended by Rajah & Tann lawyer Hamidul Haq appeared in court last week. Soh and Wan are out on $50,000 and $30,000 bail respectively.

If found guilty, they can be jailed for up to five years or fined up to $100,000 or both.


This article was first published on November 20, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.