S'pore company charged with exporting S$341,000 worth of Pokka drinks to North Korea

Back in August 2019, Pokka denied selling products to North Korea.

Ashley Tan | May 25, 2022, 06:58 PM

Update on May 27, 5:50pm: This article was updated to include Pokka's statement.

A beverage company in Singapore has been charged with exporting various Pokka drinks to North Korea.

This is a follow-up to reports in 2019 that shed light on Pokka Singapore's alleged exports, stating that drinks they manufactured were seen being sold in hotels, bars and markets in Pyongyang.

An investigation was then conducted by Singapore authorities into the incident.

Facing five charges

According to CNA, one of the two companies charged, 123 Duty Free, faces five charges under the Regulation of Imports and Exports Regulations.

From April to August 2018, it had allegedly exported over S$341,000 worth of drinks such as milk coffee, melon milk and strawberry milk to North Korea.

If convicted, 123 Duty Free could be fined up to S$100,000 or three times the value of the goods, whichever is higher, for a first offence.

For repeat offences, the company could be fined S$200,000 or four times the value of the goods, whichever is higher.

This means that it could be fined around S$1.02 million for a first offence.

Pokka's statement

In a statement to Mothership, a Pokka spokesperson said they are aware of recent media reports that 123 Duty Free Pte Ltd has been charged with offences relating to the export of certain Pokka products to North Korea.

The spokesperson said that Pokka has "never had a known relationship with 123 Duty Free Pte Ltd".

However, Pokka had supplied certain products to 123 Holdings Pte Ltd between April 2018 and August 2018.

This was done with the "clear expectation" that the products would be distributed in compliance with the law.

The spokesperson added that Pokka is committed to complying with laws and sanctions.

"Pokka has not been charged with any offences relating to the export of its products to North Korea and is committed to complying with all national laws and UN sanctions, including ensuring that it has no dealings with North Korea.

Pokka has a strict management policy not to trade with distributors that export to North Korea directly or indirectly. Furthermore, Pokka would immediately suspend business with customers, in and outside Singapore, that are suspected of trading in North Korea."

Pokka denied allegations in 2019

Back in August 2019, Pokka denied selling products to North Korea.

Speaking to NK News, who broke the story, Pokka added it had 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."

A 2019 statement published on Pokka's website by Shofu stated that media reports of their alleged exports to North Korea "contain many false and unsubstantiated claims".

Shofu reassured the public it has no dealings with North Korea, in line with national laws and UN sanctions.

The statement said:

"We enforce a firm policy not to trade with distributors that export to North Korea directly or indirectly and have robust internal policies in place that would prevent the execution of a trade with a distributor in North Korea."

Shofu also claimed that the company requires a written declaration from its exporters and wholesalers that its products will not be shipped to North Korea.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) then issued a statement to 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."

Top photo from Pokka / FB