January 21, 2023 08:12
The first North Korean national ever to be extradited to the United States has been sentenced for money laundering.
Businessman Mun Chol-myong was sentenced Friday in federal district court in Washington to time served of 45 months in prison.
A resident of Malaysia, Mun was extradited to the U.S. in early 2021 following his arrest by Malaysian authorities in 2019 and an unsuccessful battle to block his extradition.
The 55-year-old businessman was accused by U.S. prosecutors of taking part in a scheme to provide luxury goods for North Korean customers in violation of U.S. sanctions. The indictment against Mun said that he and his co-conspirators used a network of front companies and falsified records to hide more than $1.2 million in illicit transactions.
The indictment further alleged that Mun was affiliated with North Korea's main spy agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau. The service remains under U.S. and UN sanctions.
Mun faced five charges, including one count of money laundering conspiracy and four counts of money laundering.
After initially pleading not guilty, Mun last year entered into an "Alford plea," under which he pleaded guilty and avoided trial but did not formally admit to the facts in the case.
Mun's extradition prompted North Korea to sever diplomatic ties with Malaysia. But U.S. law enforcement officials praised Malaysia for the rare move.
"Thanks to the FBI's partnership with foreign authorities, we're proud to bring Mun Chol-myong to the United States to face justice, and we hope he will be the first of many," FBI Assistant Director Alan Kohler Jr. said at the time of Mun's extradition.
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