Pokka S'pore suspected of illegally exporting products to North Korea

Landed in hot water.

Julia Yeo | August 03, 2019, 02:57 AM

Popular beverage giant Pokka Singapore is under investigation by the Singapore authorities for allegedly illegally exporting products to North Korea.

Despite Singapore's total trade ban on North Korea since November 2017, beverages manufactured from Pokka Singapore are still allegedly sold widely in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital city.

Pokka denied selling beverages to North Korea

According to NK News, drinks such as coffee, flavoured milk and fruit juices manufactured in Singapore under license by Pokka were seen widely on sale in hotels, bars, and markets.

However, Pokka Singapore has denied selling products to North Korea since 2012.

Pokka Singapore has refrained from making substantive comments given the ongoing investigations.

Speaking to NK News, Pokka said it has been fully cooperating with the authorities: "We are rendering full cooperation to the authorities in relation to matters/ events that largely took place prior to Sept. 19, 2018 which was when Ms. (Rieko) Shofu took over as CEO of Pokka International Pte. Ltd. (“PIN”) from Mr Alain Ong."

Alain Ong was suspended in September 2018 in wake of an internal audit.

The company added that "they will not be responding to any further queries and will not hesitate to take action against the relevant parties for any erroneous and defamatory statements and/ or wrongdoings against Pokka".

Claims made by European partner

NK News reported that CEO of PC Splash Water, Pantelis Constantinou, alleged that he came under pressure from senior Pokka Singapore staff during a meeting to help cover up the firm's illegal sales.

Constantinou claimed that he declined multiple offers from Pokka Singapore, not wanting to be involved in illegal dealings with North Korea.

Shortly after, Pokka Singapore terminated its 27-year relationship with the European distributor based in Cyprus.

Pokka's Japanese office has denied all of Constantinou's allegations.

Statement from Singapore Government

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has issued a statement in response to media queries from Today:

"Singapore will not hesitate to take action against any entity that breaches our laws and regulations which give effect to the United Nations Security Council Resolutions."

MFA stated in their response that they were unable to provide more information due to the ongoing investigations by the Singapore government regarding the alleged report.

Top image collage from Pokka website, Shoponline and Wikipedia Media Commons