Suspect in N. Korea Sanctions Violation in Singapore, Police Say

SINGAPORE — A Singaporean businessman wanted by the United States on suspicion of violating sanctions on North Korea is in the city-state where he is under investigation, Singapore police said.

 

In a statement issued late Saturday, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said they have sought clarification from their U.S. counterparts over the reward as they have kept the U.S. informed about the ongoing probe by local authorities.

 

The U.S. State Department on Thursday offered $5 million for information on businessman Kwek Kee Seng, accusing him of numerous fuel deliveries to North Korea and ship-to-ship transfers as well as money laundering through front companies.

 

Federal prosecutors in New York in 2021 issued an arrest warrant for Kwek, a year after one of his oil tankers, the M/T Courageous, was seized by Cambodia at the request of the U.S. over alleged sanctions violations.

 

Kwek, 62, owns the Swanseas Port Services shipping company based in the city-state.

 

The State Department’s Rewards for Justice program had said his exact location was not known and that he also has been identified as being in North Korea, Cambodia, Taiwan and Thailand as well as Cameroon and the tiny Caribbean nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis.

 

But Singapore’s police said in their statement that “Kwek is presently in Singapore.”

He has been under investigation since April 2021 by the Commercial Affairs Department, the city’s white-collar crime investigation agency, and his passport has been impounded.

 

The Singapore police said the investigation was launched after the U.S. Justice Department announced a criminal complaint had been filed against Kwek for “allegedly conspiring to evade economic sanctions” on North Korea and for money laundering.

 

The SPF said they have shared information about their investigation of Kwek with U.S. law enforcement authorities.

 

“Since then, there were several more exchanges. Due to the nature and complexity of the case, investigations are still ongoing,” police said.

 

“On 4 November 2022, the SPF wrote to our U.S. counterparts to seek clarification, given that we had been in active communication with our U.S. counterparts on Kwek’s case,” it added.

 

“Singapore will continue to assist the US authorities within the ambit of our laws and international obligations,” it said.

 

The reward comes as the U.S. urges strict enforcement of United Nations sanctions on North Korea since its recent missile launches, including one missile that landed close to South Korea’s waters.

 

Source: Voice of America

14kgs of crystal meth found in bedding destined for Australia

Thai officials seized about 14kgs of crystal methamphetamine (Ice) yesterday (Friday), infused into the cloth of pillow cases and packed in two parcels destined for Australia.

 

Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) Secretary-General, Wichai Chaimongkhon, said that officials found the two parcels, each declared as containing six and five pillow cases respectively, to be unusually heavy, so they opened them for inspection.

 

They found the pillow cases to be rigid with traces of white powder, which tested positive for Ice, he said, adding that officials know the identities of the sender in Thailand and the intended recipient in Australia and have informed the Australian authorities.

 

The ONCB secretary-general said that, in the 2022 fiscal year, anti-narcotics officials had intercepted parcels containing 344.61kgs of Ice and 76.8kgs of heroin destined for Australia and arrested a Thai man and a Singaporean national.

 

Most of the drugs were hidden in household items, clothing and drinks.

 

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

Real estate sector to propose alternative to foreigners buying land in Thailand

Thai real estate business operators will propose that the government allow foreigners to buy houses on up to 0.16 hectares (one rai) of land, as an alternative to the right to buy the land on which it sits, for residential purposes, as defined in the Interior Ministry’s edict, which has met with resistance from nationalist groups.

 

Meesak Choonharatchote, president of the Thai Real Estate Association, said yesterday (Friday) that real estate organisations, which include the Thai Condominium Association, the Housing Business Association and 14 other associations, as well as the Thai Chamber of Commerce, will meet on Thursday to discuss the controversial foreign land-ownership issue.

 

He said that the meeting is expected to come up with an alternative proposal, to be sent to the government for consideration. The proposal is to allow foreigners to buy houses in Thailand, but that there should be limits on the sizes of the houses and prices, on top of the requirement that they hold long-term residential visas.

 

Moreover, he said foreign house-owners will have the right to vote at meetings of the housing unit’s management body, but not the full rights granted to Thai nationals, said Meesak.

 

He also noted that the edict, recently issued by the Ministry of Interior, to allow four groups of foreigners with long-term resident visas to buy 0.16 hectares of land in Bangkok, Pattaya, other municipal areas and specific areas with strings attached will not benefit the Thai economy, because such a policy is unlikely to boost liquidity in the economy.

 

The edict has met with fierce resistance from Thai nationalists, with some of them having accused the government of “selling off” the country to foreigners.

 

In the USA, UK and the EU, among other places, however, there is no citizenship requirement for the purchase of land for residential purposes. In Australia, residency may be an advantage, but not citizenship.

 

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

UPDATE – Acronis promotes Katya Ivanova to Chief Sales Officer

Ivanova brings more than 10 years of sales and business development experience to the new role and will focus on scaling the global sales organization to continue Acronis’s hyper growth

Katya Ivanova

Katya Ivanova

SCHAFFHAUSEN, Switzerland, Nov. 04, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Acronis, a global leader in cyber-protection, announced today the promotion of Katya Ivanova as its new Chief Sales Officer to lead the Acronis sales organization globally. Ivanova is a recognized multi-national sales leader with experience in APAC, Europe and the Middle East, North America, and LATAM markets. Most recently, Ivanova managed over 300 professionals as Vice President Worldwide Inside Sales, Acronis.

With proven team leadership, sales expertise, and successful partner relations, Ivanova will expand Acronis’ global sales while increasing awareness of the Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud Platform. Ivanova started at Acronis as Support Engineer in August 2011. She first led a support sales project during her role as Sr. Manager in Global Support Vendor Management and successfully generated more than 70% growth in revenue (in the first year) after which switching over to Sr. Inside Sales and Renewals before assuming her prior position of Vice President Worldwide Inside Sales in Feb 2019.

As Acronis’ Chief Sales Officer, Ivanova will expand upon her documented history of driving double digit sales growth worldwide. “Katya has demonstrated drive and ambition throughout her Acronis career which has seen her quickly rising through the ranks to one of the highest sales positions in the company. I have no doubt this recent promotion will allow her to continue to build upon her successful corporate journey,” said Patrick Pulvermueller, Chief Executive Officer at Acronis.

Managed Service Provider’s (MSP) continue to struggle with increasingly complex security systems involving multiple technologies. According to the 2022 Acronis Cyber Protection Week Global Report, 78 percent of global organizations use as many as 10 different solutions for data protection and security, yet 76 percent of them experience downtime and data loss. Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud offers an integrated, single architecture that simplifies the process without sacrificing security. Ivanova will use her industry experience and sales excellence to amplify the reach of Acronis cyber protection solutions which are trusted by over 20,000 global service providers, protecting over 750,000 businesses, and preventing over 100 million attacks.

“I am extremely excited and motivated to expand upon our current success to protect our loyal customer base from the rise in cyber-attacks. I intend to help the team deliver the best possible experience, thereby strengthening the cooperation with our customers and partners,” said Ivanova. “Cyberattacks continue to increase worldwide, so it is more important than ever for security leaders to effectively and efficiently protect their businesses.”

To learn more about Acronis’ integrated endpoint protection solution, visit acronis.com and register to attend the Acronis #CyberFit Summit 2022 in Miami, Florida from November 7-9, 2022.

About Acronis

Acronis unifies data protection and cybersecurity to deliver integrated, automated cyber protection that solves the safety, accessibility, privacy, authenticity, and security (SAPAS) challenges of the modern digital world. With flexible deployment models that fit the demands of service providers and IT professionals, Acronis provides superior cyber protection for data, applications, and systems with innovative next-generation antivirus, backup, disaster recovery, and endpoint protection management solutions powered by AI. With advanced anti-malware powered by cutting-edge machine intelligence and blockchain based data authentication technologies, Acronis protects any environment – from cloud to hybrid to on premises – at a low and predictable cost.

Founded in Singapore in 2003 and incorporated in Switzerland in 2008, Acronis now has more than 2,200 employees in 40 locations in 19 countries. Acronis Cyber Protect solution is available in 26 languages in over 150 countries and is used by over 20,000 service providers to protect over 750,000 businesses.

Contact for press release: Karl Bateson | karl.bateston@acronis.com

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at: https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/e696fc12-29bf-4ddc-9e42-78360466c4ef

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