JAPANESE MEANING OF ちんぽ, CHINPO

Chinpo Shipping (Private) Pty is our Mã Sản Phẩm proliferation finance prosecution. Or at least it was, until last week, when it all came apart at the seams.

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In June 2014, Singaporean prosecutors filed charges against Chinpo Shipping and its director for its involvement in facilitating the shipment of the largest consignment of North Korean weapons ever seized. A year earlier, the Chong Chon Gang was stopped in the Panama Canal on its way from Cutía to lớn North Korea. Panamanian authorities searched the vessel & found 25 containers of military equipment concealed beneath over 200,000 bags of sugar. The loot included two MiG fighter jets and additional engines, military vehicles, & surface-to-air missile systems, amongst other things. More about the cargo here, và in paragraphs 84-89 of the năm trước UN Panel of Experts report.

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Further investigations revealed that it was a Singaporean company, Chinpo Shipping Ltd, that paid $72,000 for the vessel’s passage through the Panama Canal. Chinpo’s Director, Tan Cheng Hoe had been providing services related khổng lồ North Korean maritime trade since the 1970s. His primary client was North Korea’s Ocean Maritime Management, which orchestrated the Chong Chon Gang shipment, & which was sanctioned by the UN for contributing khổng lồ proliferation shortly thereafter.

Singaporean prosecutors filed two charges against Tan and Chinpo: one for carrying on a remittance business without a valid remittance license; and one for providing financial services or transferring financial assets or resources “that may reasonably be used khổng lồ contribute lớn the nuclear-related, ballistic missile-related, or other weapons of mass destruction-related programs or activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” (Regulation 12b of Singapore’s United Nations Regulations 2010).

That was a big giảm giá khuyến mãi. Proliferation finance prosecutions, where the leading offense is about the flow of funds rather than the flow of goods per se, are extremely rare. Several facilitators of Iranian nuclear- or missile-related goods procurement were previously prosecuted in the US, partly on the basis of financial transactions connected to the deals. But in those cases the charges were mostly filed pursuant lớn anti-money laundering legislation, which carries the potential for bigger collective sầu fines, và where guilt is often easier to prove sầu. Chinpo was different, & many hoped it would show other countries that proliferation finance prosecutions were doable.

The judge in the district court that first heard the case found Chinpo guilty on both counts. The first charge, relating to unlicensed remittances, was always going khổng lồ be pie from a prosecution standpoint. Tan had agreed to let OMM use his bank accounts with United Overseas Bank, International Commercial Bank, & Bank of Trung Quốc to facilitate OMM’s international business. At OMM’s behest, between April 2009 and July 2013 Tan performed over 600 wire transfers worth $40 million. Oh, and lớn make it shadier, a North Korean would periodically rochồng up khổng lồ the ngân hàng and withdraw about half a million in mint US dollar notes from Tan’s accounts. Chinpo did not have a remittance license when it did any of this. So when it appealed the initial conviction on this charge, the Singaporean High Court judge quickly upheld the District Judge’s verdict.

The second count is where it all gets tricky. Singapore’s Regulation 12(b) focuses purely on the provision of financial services that aid North Korea’s WMD or missile activities. In order for Tan lớn be convicted under 12(b), the prosecution needed to prove that the financial transfer could have reasonably contributed khổng lồ North Korea’s WMD programs. The prosecution opted khổng lồ make that liên kết by bringing in a witness, Dr Gramê man Ong-Webb, to testify that the shipment of conventional weapons aboard the Chong Chon Gang clearly supported Pyongyang’s WMD và missile programs, because the kit could be used khổng lồ defend North Korean nuclear và missile sites. Yes, in the DPRK there are certainly SAMs proximate khổng lồ priority sites, including nuclear ones. But does that mean SAMs could reasonably contribute lớn the nuke program? Discuss.

As I said at the time in an article for 38 North:

Ultimately, prosecutors were lucky. The judge determined, based on the testimony of a single expert witness, that the surface-to-air systems found on board the Chong Chon Gang could be used khổng lồ defkết thúc North Korean “nuclear missile sites.” That’s thin ice.

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The Singaporean High Court on 12 May 2017 agreed with Chinpo’s appeal on the same issue (the judgment is available here). “If we accept this opinion as conclusive of ‘what could reasonably be used to lớn contribute’ to lớn the of the DPRK…then even mundane logistics such as food & toiletries that facilitated the functioning of the of the DPRK” could also contribute. I’m not sure where Yongbyon gets its shampoo, but I take their point.

The court added that there is a “large logical leap between transferring funds for the passage of a vessel through the Panama Canal (without knowing the presence of the Material on the vessel) và contributing that the transfer could contribute khổng lồ the of the DPRK”. Their conclusion: unless it’s going directly to the nuclear program, it’s not proliferation finance. The appeals court even implied that funding the transport of an assembled nuclear warhead (don’t get me started) might be too indirect for regulation 12(b).

To be fair, prosecutors should not have had khổng lồ perform such legal gymnastics in the first place. The language in 12b of the Singaporean statute is pulled from Paragraph 18 of UNSCR 1874 (2009):

But in just lifting language from paragraph 18, the statute misses out the financial obligations captured in other parts of the resolution, namely in paragraphs 9 và 10, which ban financial transactions related lớn conventional weapons. Had Singapore drafted và updated its national regulations with sufficient specifithành phố, or made reference khổng lồ other activities that proliferators are prohibited from engaging in pursuant khổng lồ relevant UN resolutions, this would never have been an issue.

Sure, prosecutors could have sầu tried lớn charge Chinpo under the part of the Singaporean statute that covers provision of services related to conventional weapons (Regulation 5, read with 13), but to bởi so they would have had to lớn prove that Tan and Chinpo staff knew that illicit weapons were on board the Chong Chon Gang. Hard lớn vị. That same burden didn’t exist in relation lớn regulation 12b, which is why it was chosen.

That sort of backfired on prosecutors too, because the Court of Appeal ended up getting spelling out its own (completely self-contradicting) conclusions that Chinpo staff might have had lớn know about the weapons in the Chon Chong Gang to lớn be convicted under 12(b). Dear Singapore: if your statute requires the prosecution to prove that a defendant knew the whole illegal masterplan, it will be worthless for enforcement. North Korea is way too good at evasion for us to lớn be able to lớn do that, even in the most straightforward cases.

Debacles like this are perfect examples of the need for greater attention to the global deficiencies in implementing UN Security Council Resolutions on the DPRK. No, the issue isn’t sexy, and DPRK sanctions nerds lượt thích me sound lượt thích broken records when we keep bringing it up. But if Singapore is actually comparatively advanced in implementation, think about how far behind we are elsewhere, và the practical problems those gaps might create for stopping perpetrators of the next Chong Chon Gang. We have sầu so far lớn go just khổng lồ get the arms-focused sanctions we passed in 2006 & 2009 right. Don’t even get me started on the truchồng load of stuff the Security Council dumped on everyone in năm nhâm thìn.

In short, for those of us working lớn help build capathành phố globally on counter-proliferation finance, and particularly khổng lồ create a basket of success stories in passing và enforcing CPF legislation, this outcome really sets us bachồng.