North Korea Man Extradited To U.S.

( A North Korean citizen on Saturday became the first person taken into U.S. custody to face charges of money laundering.
Mun Chol Myong was extradited from Malaysia to face the charges at trial. According to the Associated Press, the FBI in Washington, D.C., had Mun in custody on Saturday. A court in Malaysia rejected his claims that the charges being brought against him were motivated politically.
The U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment on the matter on Sunday.
A warrant for Mun’s arrest was issued by a federal judge in Washington on May 2, 2019. The warrant was issued regarding money laundering charges.
Mun had been living in Malaysia for more than 10 years. He was arrested later in May 2019 after the Malaysian government had approved the U.S. request for extradition. Mun had challenged the extradition, which is why he remained in Malaysian custody for so long.
Mun’s lawyers have claimed that he won’t get a fair trial in the United States. They argued in court that their client’s extradition was “politically motivated.” They claim the arrest is intended to increase pressure on the North Korean government regarding their missile program.
In court, Mun denied all allegations that he was involved in a laundering scheme. He has been accused of violating United Nations sanctions by supplying luxury goods that were prohibited to North Korea from Singapore. This allegedly occurred before he moved to Malaysia back in 2008.
He has also denied all allegations that he then laundered money through various front companies, producing various fraudulent documents that supported the illicit shipments.
North Korea responded to the incident over the weekend, saying they would be terminating diplomatic ties with Malaysia over the country’s decision to extradite Mun to the United States.
Mun, who is in his 50s, was represented in Malaysian court by Gooi Soon Seng. The lawyer said Mun’s family was upset with the court’s ruling to extradite him, and they worried as well that he wouldn’t receive a fair trial in the U.S.
Gooi said America didn’t extradite three residents of Singapore who worked for the same company that Mun did, even though the U.S. also charged them with money laundering crimes. Those residents were fined as a result of their actions.
Gooi said:
“That’s why we are saying the offense is of a political nature. He is a pawn caught in the rivalry between the U.S. and North Korea.”
Gooi said that his client would be sent to Washington, D.C., within three months of the March 9 court ruling in Malaysia. However, it seems that process was speeded up quite substantially, as Mun is already in FBI custody.
In that federal court case in Malaysia, the court wouldn’t accept Mun’s arguments. They said they declined to do so because he was not on trial in Malaysia. They then agreed that a lower court and the prosecutors there had followed all proper procedures.
The tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have ramped up in recent years, and this is just another example of one country pressuring the other.