British American Tobacco’s Singaporean affiliate did not break local laws when it sold cigarette components to North Korea, despite receiving a multi-million dollar fine in the U.S. for flouting North Korean sanctions, reports The Straits Times.
In April, BAT and its indirect subsidiary in Singapore agreed to pay U.S. authorities $635.24 million plus interest to resolve investigations into suspicions of sanctions breaches concerning business activities relating to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea between 2007 and 2017.
North Korea is subject to sanctions by the United Nations and individual countries for developing nuclear weapons, money laundering and human rights violations, among other activities.
According to the Straits Times, Singapore authorities became aware in 2018 that BAT Marketing Singapore was involved in selling cigarette components to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), but stopped sales since June 2017—five months before Singapore implemented the UN sanctions.
The authorities concluded that the company did not breach Singapore’s UN regulations. “The trade of cigarette components with the DPRK was not prohibited under our laws at that time,” the city’s police were quoted as saying by the Straits Times.
Today, trade sanctions against North Korea make it a crime for anyone in Singapore, as well as Singapore citizens based overseas, to supply, sell or transfer designated export items to anyone in North Korea, whether directly or indirectly.
Those found guilty of doing so can be fined up to SGD100,000 ($75,473) or three times the value of the goods that were dealt with, whichever is greater. They can also be jailed for up to two years or both.