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First North Korean extradited to U.S. sentenced in money laundering case

North Korean citizen Mun Chol Myong has been sentenced to 45 months in prison after pleading guilty to money laundering charges. Photo by Ahmad Yusni/EPA-EFE
North Korean citizen Mun Chol Myong has been sentenced to 45 months in prison after pleading guilty to money laundering charges. Photo by Ahmad Yusni/EPA-EFE

Jan. 20 (UPI) -- A North Korean citizen has been sentenced to 45 months in prison for a money laundering scheme intended to circumvent Western sanctions on North Korea, the Justice Department announced Friday.

Mun Chol Myong pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy and four counts of money laundering in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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Authorities charged Mun with six counts of money laundering in 2019, while he was residing in Malaysia. Soon afterward, he was arrested by Malaysian authorities.

A two-year extradition fight ended when a Malaysian court approved Mun's transfer to the United States in 2021. North Korea responded to the decision by breaking off diplomatic relations with Malaysia.

"Between April 2013 and November 2018, Mun and others conspired to transmit funds through the United States for the purpose of promoting bank fraud," reads a press release from the Justice Department.

"Specifically, the indictment alleges that Mun and his co-conspirators used a network of front companies and falsified transaction records to conceal that the payments benefitted sanctioned North Korean entities," the press release continues.

According to the Justice Department, the indictment against Mun alleges that he is affiliated with the Reconnaissance General Bureau, North Korea's primary intelligence organization. It also alleges that Mun conducted more than $1.2 million in illicit transactions.

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Mun is the first North Korean citizen to be extradited to the United States. He will be subject to deportation after he completes his sentence.

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