Arms sale suspect disappears from Singapore home

04 Feb 08

At an upmarket residential development in a leafy Singapore neighborhood, there is little sign of a couple indicted by US justice authorities over the illegal sale of aircraft parts to Iran.

British-born Brian Woodford has not been seen at his home in the city-state for a year or more, his housesitter said on the telephone yesterday.

“He is not here. He don’t live here anymore,” said a woman with a Filipino accent who answered the phone at his Singapore home.

She said Woodford had not been there since last year or two years ago.

Woodford runs the Singapore-based Monarch Aviation Pte with his wife, Laura Wang-Woodford. In January 2003, a New York grand jury returned a 20-count indictment against the couple that was under seal until late last year, according to the US network ABC News, which broke the story on Thursday.

Wang-Woodford, a Singaporean resident and US citizen, was arraigned on Friday in a New York court on the indictment, the US Department of Justice said.

A director of the lucrative Singapore-based import-export business, she was arrested in December as she entered the US, the justice department said.

Monarch Aviation allegedly exported military aircraft parts from US suppliers to Singapore without proper licenses.

It also allegedly resold commercial aircraft parts illegally to a firm in Tehran, in violation of a US law barring certain transactions of that kind.

Wang-Woodford pleaded not guilty at her arraignment on Friday and was ordered to be held without bail. She left Singapore on Dec. 18 and spent five days in China before traveling to the US, the justice department said.

At the Singapore condominium, a wooden crucifix hangs on the double front doors and a plaque beside them reads, “Brian and Laura Woodford.”

The ground-floor unit opens onto an outdoor patio where a glass-topped dining table sits ready with candles on it. A bush beside the doors is decorated with Chinese ornaments.

The middle-aged house-sitter said she did not know how to contact Brian Woodford or where he had gone.

Monarch has been in business in Singapore for more than 15 years and “is known to have exported goods worth millions of dollars,” said a letter submitted by US attorneys to the presiding US District Court judge.

The company’s office is listed as on the 25th floor of an office block in the heart of Singapore’s prime Orchard Road district, but it now appears abandoned.

At the time of her arrest, Wang-Woodford was carrying merchandise catalogs from a Chinese company that is listed as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction by the US Treasury Department, the US indictment said.

Items advertised in the catalogs included surface-to-air missile systems and rocket launchers, the indictment said.

%d bloggers like this: