The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office has summoned 19 people, including the owner of a customs brokerage, for questioning as part of a probe into their alleged involvement in selling a chemical used to make gunpowder to North Korea.
Led by Taipei prosecutors, law enforcement officials on Monday searched customs brokerages and shipping companies after being tipped off that a brokerage owner surnamed Chen (陳) last year started using several Chinese ships to smuggle products to North Korea.
According to the tip, the ships were used as a cover to smuggle a special sugar that can be processed into gunpowder, as well as grains from Southeast Asia, to North Korea through Japan and South Korea under the guise of exporting the products to the two countries.
Chen has reportedly made up to NT$100 million (US$3.29 million) in illegal gains through the practice, prosecutors said.
During the searches, investigators seized documents related to exports and imports, customs and transactions.
Chen and others involved in the alleged smuggling were to be referred to prosecutors after questioning to clarify whether they provided clandestine assistance to North Korea, helping it to develop nuclear weapons or military equipment, the office said.
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