Taipei, The Taipei District Prosecutors Office has summoned 19 people, including the owner of a customs brokerage, for questioning as part of an investigation into their alleged involvement in selling a fuel used to make gunpowder to North Korea.
Led by Taipei prosecutors, law enforcement authorities performed a search Monday of customs brokerages and shipping companies after receiving a tip-off that a customs brokerage owner surnamed Chen starting using several Chinese ships last year to smuggle products to North Korea.
According to the tip, the Chinese ships were used as a cover to smuggle a special sugar that can be processed into gunpowder along with 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$3.35 million) in illegal gains through the practice, prosecutors suspect.
During the search of the many companies, investigators seized a slew of documents related to exports and imports, customs and transactions.
Chen and others involved in the alleged smuggling were to be referred to prosecutors after investigators finished questioning them to clarify whether Chen and the related companies provided clandestine assistance to North Korea to help it develop nuclear weapons or military equipment, according to the prosecutors office.