By: Ashleigh Foor
Illegal exporting of goods lands Singapore native, Lim Yong Nam (aka Steven Lim), 43, in a lot of trouble. Forty months in prison kind of trouble to be exact. On December 15, 2016 Lim plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the US.
The conspiracy involved Lim’s and others’ involvement in the shipment of thousands of radio frequency modules from a Minnesota-based company to Iran. The frequency transmitting technology used in these modules is related to that which connects office computers and printers wirelessly. The same technology is also used for remote detonation systems. Connected with the right antenna, the wireless capabilities can stretch 40 miles. But this technology was not shipped with the intention of setting up networks in an office building. Of the 6,000 modules shipped from Minnesota to Iran, 14 were later found in Iraq in unexploded improvised explosive devices (IEDs). According to case files, IEDs were the main source of American casualties in Iraq from 2001-2007.
Charges were first filed against Lim in June 2010, when he plead guilty to falsifying documents and breaking US law in order for 6,000 modules to ship from Minnesota to Singapore and finally to Iran through 5 shipments. Lim admitted that he and his co-conspirators were aware of US restrictions on shipments to Iran and made false statements to indicate Singapore as the final destination.
After reaching Singapore, these shipments were combined with other electronic devices and stored with a freight forwarding company before being re-exported to Iran. There is no evidence of Lim having any physical contact with the modules.
From 2008 to 2009 several of these modules originating from Minnesota were found in Iraq being used for the remote detonation system for IEDs. With US request for extradition, Indonesia detained Lim in 2014. After being extradited to the US in 2016, Lim plead guilty to charges of conspiracy against the US and will be deported after his sentence.
Interestingly, the Minnesota supplier has not been charged for any violations related to the exports in question.