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Singapore ‘entrepreneur of the year’ lands on FBI most wanted list

A Singaporean commodities trader has been put on the FBI’s most wanted list and sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for allegedly laundering North Korean money through his family’s trading company.

Tan Wee Beng, 41, is charged with using the U.S. financial system to launder tens of millions of dollars to pay for shipments to North Korea, according to a DOJ indictment unsealed last week. 

He was also sanctioned in a related action by the Treasury Department.

Tan started laundering North Korean money in 2011, according to the DOJ. The same year he was named “entrepreneur of the year” by Ernst & Young.

“Tan Wee Beng and his co-conspirators made deliberate efforts to launder money through the U.S. financial system on behalf of North Korea,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

Tan, pictured above, is a managing director and major shareholder of Singapore-based Wee Tiong Pte. Ltd., one of the ” largest privately owned commodities trading house in Asia” with annual revenues over $400 million, according to its website. 

Wee Tiong Pte. Ltd. was started by Tan’s father, Tan Siong Kern, in 1993. 

North Korean banks allegedly coached Tan how to move funds for Pyongyang through the global banking system.

Tan used Wee Tiong Pte. Ltd. and front companies in Thailand and Hong Kong as a cover for North Korean Daedong Credit Bank.

OFAC blacklisted Daedong Credit Bank for “managing millions of dollars of transactions in support of the North Korean regime’s destabilizing activities.”

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said Tan lied to major U.S. banks on North Korea’s behalf. 

“He is now a fugitive from American justice, and we look forward to working with our foreign partners to bring Beng [Tan] to the U.S. to answer for his alleged crimes,” Berman said.

The DOJ charged Tan with conspiracies to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, to commit bank fraud, to commit money laundering, and to obstruct the lawful functions of OFAC, as well as with substantive counts of bank fraud and money laundering. 

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Harry Cassin is the managing editor of the FCPA Blog.

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