Connect with us

Court Cases

Singaporeans fined for sonar system sale to Myanmar Navy amidst investigations into arms trade

Two Singaporeans were fined a total of S$80,000 for their role in selling a sonar system to the Myanmar Navy. The system later ended up with Myanmar entity Light of Universe for US$1.58 million.

In related news, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan had earlier confirmed 138 Singapore-based entities’ involvement in Myanmar’s military supply chain.



SINGAPORE: On Tuesday (19 Sept) two Singaporean individuals were fined a total of S$80,000 (approximately US$58,649) for their involvement in selling a sonar system that ultimately ended up with a survey center operated by the Myanmar Navy.

Poiter Agus Kentjana, 57, then-sales manager at equipment supplier Hydronav Services (Singapore), and Wui Ong Chuan, 70, one of its directors, confessed in court to violating a law governing the sale of strategic goods, including weapons.

Wui was ordered to pay a fine of $45,000, while Poiter was fined $35,000.

Their guilty pleas in August pertained to one count each of cheating and an offence under the Strategic Goods (Control) Act.

Hydronav had previously been found guilty of two offenses under the Act and was fined over S$1.1 million (approximately US$806,424) on Tuesday.

How Poiter and Wui tricked Norwegian authorities in sonar system export scheme

In August, Deputy Public Prosecutor Magdalene Huang disclosed in court the intricate scheme employed by Poiter and Wui to deceive Norwegian firm Kongsberg Maritime, the original system seller, by falsely representing Indonesian company Bina Nusantara Perkasa as the end-user.

Poiter, responsible for system sales, orchestrated a fraudulent plan to mislead Norwegian authorities into approving the system’s export by falsely designating the Indonesian company as the end-user.

This cunning maneuver came after two rejections when the Myanmar Navy Hydrographic Centre was indicated as the end-user.

Selecting Bina Nusantara Perkasa due to their prior dealings with Hydronav, Poiter believed that the Norwegian authorities would endorse the sale to this firm.

Wui endorsed the sales strategy and provided Poiter with the contact details of Bina Nusantara Perkasa’s director, who willingly participated in the scheme by submitting a statement identifying his company as the end-user.

Upon Poiter’s submission of the falsified statement to Kongsberg, the company was manipulated into obtaining an export license for the system, which was sold for US$759,931.20.

Shipment to Myanmar in July 2018

The Norwegian authorities granted approval for the export to Bina Nusantara Perkasa upon receiving the deceitful statement, and the system was shipped from Norway to Singapore on 17 July 2018.

On July 20, 2018, the system was exported to Myanmar without the required permit under the Strategic Goods (Control) Act, eventually landing in the hands of Myanmar entity Light of Universe for US$1.58 million (S$2 million).

The designated end-user was the Myanmar Navy Hydrographic Centre, responsible for surveying activities in Myanmar waters.

Despite the system’s classification for both military and civilian use, the prosecution asserted that there was no evidence of its military application.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Huang emphasized that the seabed mapping tool comprised two sub-systems, both listed in the Schedule of the Strategic Goods (Control) Order 2017, subjecting it to regulatory controls under the Act.

A raid conducted on Hydronav’s premises in October 2020

The authorities were alerted when Singapore Customs received a complaint alleging that Hydronav had exported the system to Myanmar without the necessary permit, triggering an investigation and leading to a raid on Hydronav’s premises on October 15, 2020.

During the raid, digital devices and documents were seized by the authorities.

Singapore acknowledges 138 Singapore-based entities involved in Myanmar’s military junta supply chain amid international probe

On 3 July this year, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan confirmed that 138 Singapore-based entities have been identified as participants in the supply chain to Myanmar’s military as investigations continue.

Minister Balakrishnan provided these responses in a written answer to Parliamentary Questions submitted by Workers’ Party Member of Parliament (MP) Dennis Tan and PAP MP Vikram Nair over the report published on 17 May by Tom Andrews, the United Nations Special Rapporteur in Myanmar, which alleged implication of Singapore companies or entities based in Singapore in the sales of dual-use items, raw materials, and spare parts with military-related uses.

Minister Balakrishnan revealed that an additional 91 entities were identified for involvement in supplying Myanmar’s military.

These findings supplement the initial list of 47 entities recently named by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Myanmar.

Nine of the identified entities are no longer registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, rendering them unable to operate as legal entities or conduct business in Singapore.

Entities suspected of facilitating transfers, including fighter aircraft parts and naval equipment, to Myanmar

Among these entities are those allegedly engaged in the transfer of components, spare parts for fighter aircraft, equipment for the Myanmar Navy, as well as radios, research, and equipment for electronic warfare.

Regarding the initial list of 47 entities, Minister Balakrishnan clarified that most of them no longer maintain business relationships with Singapore banks.

However, the remaining accounts will undergo review by the banks, which will implement appropriate measures, including enhanced scrutiny, to ensure that transactions processed by these entities are not suspicious.

Minister Balakrishnan assured that as Myanmar is on the Financial Action Task Force’s blacklist, financial institutions in Singapore have implemented enhanced due diligence for customers and transactions linked to Myanmar, which present higher risks.

OHCHR report shed light on the crucial role of Singapore

The comprehensive report, titled “The Billion Dollar Death Trade: International Arms Networks that Enable Human Rights Violations in Myanmar,” provides evidence that Myanmar’s military has imported at least $1 billion USD worth of arms and raw materials for the manufacturing of weapons.

The brutal attack on Pazigyi Village in the Sagaing Region on 11 April 2023, which resulted in the death of approximately 170 people, including 40 children, is a chilling testament to the devastating impact of unrestricted arms trade with the Myanmar military.

The report highlighted that entities in Singapore are critical to the operation of Myanmar’s Directorate of Defense Industries’ weapons factories (commonly referred to as KaPaSa, the Burmese acronym for DDI).

Singapore is named in the report as a significant jurisdiction for the transit of spare parts, raw materials, and manufacturing equipment.

Between February 2021 and December 2022, US$254 million worth of supplies were dispatched from various Singaporean entities to the Myanmar military, often involving Singaporean banks.

MFA previously denied Singapore’s involvement in arms trade with Myanmar

The Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) responded emphatically to these claims in May, insisting that it prohibits the transfer of arms and dual-use items to Myanmar, and has not been involved in the shipment of arms and related materials to the Myanmar military.

The MFA Spokesperson stated: “UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews noted in his report that the Singapore Government prohibits the transfer of arms to Myanmar. ”

“There are no indications the Government of Singapore has approved or is involved in, the shipment of arms and associated materials to the Myanmar military.”

The MFA Spokesperson reiterated Singapore’s principled stance against the Myanmar military’s use of lethal force against unarmed civilians, and highlighted its commitment to preventing the flow of arms into Myanmar as per United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution A/RES/75/287 “The Situation in Myanmar”.

The spokesperson also noted that MFA appreciates the Special Rapporteur’s efforts to provide information to aid Singapore’s investigations into whether any offences were committed under Singapore law.

The Singapore government has previously voiced its policy to “prohibit the transfer of arms to Myanmar” and has pledged not to approve the transfer of dual-use items that could potentially have military applications in Myanmar.

Share this post via:
Continue Reading
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

COVID-19 Is A Very Successful & Effective Global Military Operations Running In Sync (Same Same, But Different) With Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars In Purging All Illegal Activities.

One Come, More Come, Everything Come.

Jailed them and throw away the keys

So a simple sg man can access to sonar?

So ordinary people can’t sell ‘strategic’ eqpt to Myanmar but the G can hide the junta’s $$$ here?

are u sure they are singaporeans?