S’pore Pokka Manager So Stressed With Sales Target, He Sold The Drinks to North Korea

Certain elements of one’s job can be stressful, especially when it involves sales targets.

But how far would you go to meet those sales targets and perform well at your job?

One manager at Pokka International would break national laws and regulations to do so.

Sold Pokka Drinks to North Korea

A former manager at beverage firm Pokka International unlawfully supplied close to S$1.3 million worth of drinks to North Korea.

Phua Sze Hee, a 59-year-old Singaporean, was jailed for five weeks on Monday for his transgression.

Phua pleaded guilty to four charges of breaching Regulation of Imports and Exports Regulations. The goods had a total export value of over S$290,000.

Another 24 charges were also taken into consideration.

Now, one might wonder what motivated him to commit such an act. Was it the pursuit of fame and fortune?

Apparently not.

It seems as though Phua might have simply wanted to meet his sales targets as he did not receive commission for the sales which took place in 2017 and 2018.

Pokka International had a monthly sales target of S$1.25 million and Phua had unlawfully supplied the drinks so that he could meet it.

Lest you’re unaware, it is illegal for anyone in Singapore to trade certain goods with North Korea.

A trade prohibition on all commercially traded goods from or to North Korea was imposed in November 2017. This includes import, export, transshipment and in-transit movement of commercially traded goods.

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What Happened

Phua began working as a channel manager at Pokka International in 2009. Some of his customers included ship stores, vendors of vending machines, office suppliers, funeral parlors and wholesale companies.

He was introduced to a customer named Zheng Shi Qiang in 2014, who was the director of several companies including Tan Quang Singapore and Baron & Baron.

Zheng then introduced Phua to a man named Mr Kim. The court heard that Mr Kim was an ambassador at the North Korean embassy in Singapore.

Zheng purchased Pokka drinks from Phua and Mr Kim and would sometimes liaise with Phua over the beverages that Zheng purchased.

Mr Kim died in 2015 and Zheng then introduced Phua to Mr Mun, who also worked at the North Korean embassy.

Thereafter, Phua discovered from Zheng that the Pokka drinks sold to his companies would be exported to and sold in North Korea.

From 29 November 2017 to 25 September 2018, Phua sold Pokka drinks to businesses in Singapore despite being aware that the drinks would be exported to North Korea for commercial trade.

Around 8 December 2017, Phua invoiced Tan Quang Singapore for the purchase of 2,520 cartons of Pokka strawberry milk.

Phua knew that the drinks, which had an export value of over S$44,000, would be exported to North Korea.

Pokka’s Statement

Pokka said in a statement that it had not been charged with any offences.

In addition, it is committed to ensuring that it complies with all national laws and United Nation sanctions.

This includes making sure that it is not involved in trade with North Korea.

A spokesman for the company said that Pokka has a strict management policy not to trade with distributors that export to North Korea directly or indirectly.

Pokka would also immediately halt business with customers if they were suspected of trading in North Korea.

It also revealed that once Phua’s charges had surfaced, the firm had swiftly terminated his employment.

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Featured Image: Koreafoods