Malaysia a hub for North Korean military equipment trade, says UN

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Offices of Glocom in Jalan Thambypillai in Kuala Lumpur’s Brickfields neighbourhood

North Korea is evading its arms trade embargo with a sophisticated network of overseas companies, enabled partly by its continued access to the international banking system, a United Nations (UN) report says. Among those companies is a military equipment firm called Glocom (Global Communications Co.) based in Kuala Lumpur.

The UN experts were tracing this company after a previously unknown interdiction of North Korean-made military communications equipment destined for Eritrea in July last year. The interdiction was the second time North Korean military equipment bound for Eritrea had been intercepted, indicating an ongoing arms trade between the two countries, the report said.

Equipment including 45 boxes of battlefield radios and accessories was seized. The radios were manufactured by the Malaysia-based front company Glocom, which is in fact controlled by the Reconnaissance General Bureau, the sanctioned North Korean intelligence agency tasked with overseas operations and weapons procurement, the report says.

Glocom’s office is located in Kuala Lumpur’s “Little India” neighbourhood in Brickfields, behind an unmarked door on the second floor of a rundown building, Reuters reports after an on-site visit. In fact, no company in the name of “Glocom” is registered in Malaysia, but a Malaysian companies controlled by North Korean shareholders and directors, International Global System, registered Glocom’s former website, Glocom.com.my, in 2009 at the address. Another shell company, and International Global Services, was listed as the contact point on Glocom’s website.

The website was changed to glocom-corp.com in December 12 last year via a privacy protecting domain server and shows no more Malaysian contacts. Its most recent post is dated January, 2017 and advertises new products, including a remote control system for a precision-guided missile.

Operationally, Glocom is operated by the Pyongyang branch of a Singapore-based company called Pan Systems, the UN report says, citing an invoice and other information it obtained. Pan Systems Pyongyang apparently utilises bank accounts, front companies and agents mostly based in China and Malaysia to buy components and sell completed radio systems.

Interestingly, one of Glocom’s early partners in Malaysia was Mustapha Ya’akub, a prominent member of Malaysia’s ruling UMNO party. Since 2014, he has been listed as a director of International Golden Services. Glocom’s Little India address once housed a company owned by UMNO Youth.

Years ago, as a secretary of the UMNO Youth wing’s international affairs bureau, Ya’akub fostered political connections in the 1990s with countries, such as Iran, Libya and North Korea. Asked by Reuters about his relation to Glocom, he said that he has no more business with them and no knowledge of their current business.

Currently, Glocom advertises over 30 radio systems for military and paramilitary organisations on its Malaysian website.

 

 

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[caption id="attachment_29550" align="alignleft" width="300"] Offices of Glocom in Jalan Thambypillai in Kuala Lumpur's Brickfields neighbourhood[/caption] North Korea is evading its arms trade embargo with a sophisticated network of overseas companies, enabled partly by its continued access to the international banking system, a United Nations (UN) report says. Among those companies is a military equipment firm called Glocom (Global Communications Co.) based in Kuala Lumpur. The UN experts were tracing this company after a previously unknown interdiction of North Korean-made military communications equipment destined for Eritrea in July last year. The interdiction was the second time North Korean military equipment bound...

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Offices of Glocom in Jalan Thambypillai in Kuala Lumpur’s Brickfields neighbourhood

North Korea is evading its arms trade embargo with a sophisticated network of overseas companies, enabled partly by its continued access to the international banking system, a United Nations (UN) report says. Among those companies is a military equipment firm called Glocom (Global Communications Co.) based in Kuala Lumpur.

The UN experts were tracing this company after a previously unknown interdiction of North Korean-made military communications equipment destined for Eritrea in July last year. The interdiction was the second time North Korean military equipment bound for Eritrea had been intercepted, indicating an ongoing arms trade between the two countries, the report said.

Equipment including 45 boxes of battlefield radios and accessories was seized. The radios were manufactured by the Malaysia-based front company Glocom, which is in fact controlled by the Reconnaissance General Bureau, the sanctioned North Korean intelligence agency tasked with overseas operations and weapons procurement, the report says.

Glocom’s office is located in Kuala Lumpur’s “Little India” neighbourhood in Brickfields, behind an unmarked door on the second floor of a rundown building, Reuters reports after an on-site visit. In fact, no company in the name of “Glocom” is registered in Malaysia, but a Malaysian companies controlled by North Korean shareholders and directors, International Global System, registered Glocom’s former website, Glocom.com.my, in 2009 at the address. Another shell company, and International Global Services, was listed as the contact point on Glocom’s website.

The website was changed to glocom-corp.com in December 12 last year via a privacy protecting domain server and shows no more Malaysian contacts. Its most recent post is dated January, 2017 and advertises new products, including a remote control system for a precision-guided missile.

Operationally, Glocom is operated by the Pyongyang branch of a Singapore-based company called Pan Systems, the UN report says, citing an invoice and other information it obtained. Pan Systems Pyongyang apparently utilises bank accounts, front companies and agents mostly based in China and Malaysia to buy components and sell completed radio systems.

Interestingly, one of Glocom’s early partners in Malaysia was Mustapha Ya’akub, a prominent member of Malaysia’s ruling UMNO party. Since 2014, he has been listed as a director of International Golden Services. Glocom’s Little India address once housed a company owned by UMNO Youth.

Years ago, as a secretary of the UMNO Youth wing’s international affairs bureau, Ya’akub fostered political connections in the 1990s with countries, such as Iran, Libya and North Korea. Asked by Reuters about his relation to Glocom, he said that he has no more business with them and no knowledge of their current business.

Currently, Glocom advertises over 30 radio systems for military and paramilitary organisations on its Malaysian website.

 

 

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