$80k fine for pair linked to illegal sale of sonar that ended up with Myanmar Navy

Poiter Agus Kentjana (left) and Wui Ong Chuan admitted in court to breaching a law that controls the sale of strategic goods. ST PHOTOS: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Two Singaporeans who sold a sonar system which eventually ended up with a survey centre operated by the Myanmar Navy were ordered to pay fines totalling $80,000 on Tuesday.

Poiter Agus Kentjana, 57, and Wui Ong Chuan, 70, admitted in court to breaching a law that controls the sale of strategic goods including weapons.

They had pleaded guilty in August to one count each of cheating and an offence under the Strategic Goods (Control) Act.

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

At the time of the offences, Poiter was a sales manager at equipment supplier Hydronav Services (Singapore) and Wui was one of its directors.

Hydronav was earlier convicted of two charges under the Act, and it was fined more than $1.1 million on Tuesday.

Wui was the only director involved in the firm’s import and export operations, and the case involved a multi-beam echo sounder system for seabed mapping.

It was sold to Myanmar entity Light of Universe for US$1.58 million (S$2 million).

The end-user was the Myanmar Navy Hydrographic Centre, which carries out surveying activities in Myanmar waters.

Although the system is classified for both military and civilian use, there was no evidence that it was used for military purposes, the prosecution said.

In earlier proceedings, Deputy Public Prosecutor Magdalene Huang said Poiter and Wui had engaged in a conspiracy to cheat Norwegian firm Kongsberg Maritime, the seller of the system, into believing that Indonesian company Bina Nusantara Perkasa would be its end-user. The Norwegian authorities had earlier rejected two applications when the Myanmar Navy Hydrographic Centre was listed as the end user.

Poiter?picked Bina Nusantara Perkasa because the company had prior dealings with Hydronav. He believed the Norwegian authorities would approve the sale to the firm.

Wui agreed with the sales strategy and gave?Poiter?the contact details of Bina Nusantara Perkasa’s director, who decided to go along with the plan and filled up a statement indicating his company as the end user.

After?Poiter?submitted the false statement to Kongsberg, the company was dishonestly induced into obtaining the export licence for approval of the sale of the system, which was purchased for US$759,931.20.

The export to Bina Nusantara Perkasa was approved by the Norwegian authorities after they received the false statement, and the system was shipped from Norway to Singapore on July 17, 2018.

It was exported to Myanmar on July 20, 2018, without any permit under the Strategic Goods (Control) Act.

DPP Huang had said the seabed mapping tool consists of two sub-systems, both specified in the Schedule of the Strategic Goods (Control) Order 2017, which meant it was subject to controls under the Act.

The authorities were alerted when Singapore Customs received a complaint alleging that the export of the system by Hydronav from Singapore to Myanmar was done without the requisite permit.

An investigation was launched and Hydronav’s premises were raided on Oct 15, 2020, with the authorities seizing digital devices and documents.

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