The United States charged four Singaporeans and one Iranian on October 25th with illegally exporting 6,000 US-made IED modules from Digi International in the U.S. to Iran via Singapore. These IED modules wound up killing American military personnel in Iraq.
According to the indictment, the defendants profited considerably from their illegal trade, making tens of thousands of dollars for arranging these illegal exports.
The indictment accuses Iranian national Hossein Larijani, 47, of masterminding the operation through his Singapore company, Opto Electronics Pte, Ltd. Larijani is still at large.
Also charged are four Singapore citizens.
Ms. Wong Yuh Lan, 39
The reportedly beautiful Ms. Wong Yuh Lan, an agent of Opto Electronics, was allegedly supervised by Larijani from Iran.
Wong’s husband apparently approved of his wife’s activities stating, “She is just an ordinary person, selling ordinary things: if you are a knife seller, but another person uses your knives to kill someone, who is at fault?”
Opto Electronics official address was traced in Singapore to a rented condominium unit in Melville Park at Simei.
One of the tenants there said he knew nothing of the landlord, except that he was a man.
He had been told to take all letters addressed to Opto Electronics to his office in Genting Lane. A woman by the name of Chris would then collect the letters from him.
When contacted, Chris claimed that she is a property agent who helped to rent out the unit, adding that she had never met its owner.
Lim Yong Nam, 37
The U.S. indictment also charges NEL Electronics Pte. Ltd., a Singapore company, along with NEL’s owner and director, Singapore citizen Lim Yong Nam.
The address for NEL Electronics, where Lim Yong Nam worked, led to an office unit in an industrial area at Kallang Way. The name on the door, however, read “Fe-De Electronics.”
Lim Yong Nam’s wife would only say that they had engaged a lawyer. They have a young daughter.
Lim Kow Seng, 42 & Hia Soo Gan Benson, 44
The indictment also charges Corezing International Pte. Ltd., a Singapore company that maintained offices in China, as well as Singapore citizen Lim Kow Seng, an agent of Corezing, and Singapore citizen Hia Soo Gan Benson, a manager, director and agent of Corezing.
Lim Kow Seng’s wife said she did not “know the full story” of what could have transpired. The couple has two daughters.
U.S. prosecutors say at least 16 of the modules turned up in unexploded improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Who knows how many of the modules killed Americans in IEDs that exploded?
The indictment charges that the defendants allegedly told Digi International that Singapore was the final destination of the goods.
“In reality, each of the five shipments was routed from Singapore to Iran via air cargo. The alleged recipient of all 6,000 modules in Iran was Larijani, who had directed Wong, his employee in Singapore, to order them.”
How Singapore arms traffickers operate
Normally, shipments of U.S. arms via Singapore to Iran are illegal. The arms trade passing through Singapore is made possible by bribing Singapore officials for the issuance of false Singapore End-User Certificates.
The parties in an honest arms deal will file an End-User Certificate, noting what is being sold, who is selling it and to whom it is being sold. There is an understanding that the receiving party does not intend to transfer the weapons to a third country. For arms you need a valid End-User Certificate to obtain an export license from the U. S.
The arms traffickers had to have the cooperation of the Singapore officials to issue a false End-User Certificate to re-export the IED devices to Iran.
In Singapore an End-User Certificate is issued by the Trade Control Branch under the Director-General of Singapore Customs. Mr Fong Yong Kian.
Apparently, Singapore is very active in the illegal arms trade. First Balldev Naidu, and now this.
According to Kathi Austin, Director of the Arms and Conflict Program in San Francisco, “Singapore imports a lot of weapons … But what do they want with all those weapons? They are a conduit for third-country transfers, which are illicit because basically a country should carry an End-User Certificate and most often that is violated. The weapons are not going to Singapore; they are going to Indonesia, Malaysia and lots of parts of Africa.”
And let’s include to Iran and Iraq.
November 15, 2011 Update
The four Singaporeans accused of sending weapons parts to Iran will appear at a committal hearing on Dec 9 and 12 to determine whether they should be extradited to the United States to face charges.
The US Department of Justice served extradition papers on them last month.
The four, held under the Extradition Act, are Lim Yong Nam, 37, Lim Kow Seng, 42, Benson Hia, 44, and Wong Yuh Lan, 39.
District Judge Toh Yung Cheong yesterday allowed Lim Yong Nam to be offered bail of $100,000.
His lawyer, Mr Hamidul Haq, told the court that a psychiatric examination revealed that his client was suffering from depression.
State Counsel Mark Jayaratnam objected to bail being offered, saying Lim Yong Nam could be a flight risk.
But Mr Haq argued that his client’s family was here, and there was little likelihood of him running away.
He could be released on bail today, as family members were busy trying to raise the bail money yesterday evening.
The other three were ordered to remain in custody.
The four have been accused of shipping from Singapore to Iran 6,000 radio frequency modules they had bought from an American company, Digi International.
They are believed to have tricked the firm into selling them the modules through a network of companies.
The modules left the US in five shipments from June 2007. In May 2008, some were discovered in unexploded roadside bombs in Iraq.
Obviously, any of the devices that were involved in roadside explosions, killing American and other personnel, would not have been found as they would have been destroyed by the explosion.