North Korean man in Malaysia fails to halt US extradition over money laundering charges

Statues of Kim Jong‑il (left) and Kim Il‑sung, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Photo: Random Institute
Statues of Kim Jong‑il (left) and Kim Il‑sung, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Photo: Random Institute

A North Korean man who had been living in Malaysia for over a decade and was accused of money laundering has failed to halt his extradition to the United States, where he is expected to face his charges. 

Mun Chol Myong was today denied an appeal against the extradition due to insufficient evidence to support his claim there was political motivation, nearly a year after he was arrested by Malaysian authorities following Washington’s extradition order. His lawyer reportedly said today that Mun will lodge a final appeal to remain in Malaysia at a later time. 

“There was not sufficient evidence to support this challenge against the backdrop of the money laundering-related indictments,” judge Ahmad Shahrir Mohamad Salleh was quoted as saying at the Kuala Lumpur High Court. Mun’s lawyer previously noted in court that none of the three directors from the Singaporean company Mun had worked for were charged with money laundering.

Mun, who is in his 50s, was accused of money-laundering and conspiring to launder money related to his work in Singapore between 2014 and 2017, when he was hired by now-defunct Singaporean firm Sinsar Trading. U.S. law enforcement agency FBI had alleged that Mun had laundered money through shell companies and had links to criminal groups supplying prohibited items to North Korea. 

Authorities did not disclose what Mun had helped to supply to North Korea, but luxury goods have been banned there as part of sanctions imposed by the United States on the city of Pyongyang over the North’s weapons program.

Mun has denied all accusations.

Earlier today, Mun was accompanied by his lawyer, wife, and officials from the North Korean embassy. He was represented by lawyer Jagjit Singh, who is also the attorney representing Birkin-loving Rosmah Mansor in a trial linked to the alleged appropriation of the 1MDB state fund. 

Mun, together with his wife and daughter, returned to Malaysian soil from Singapore in 2017 as his wife needed treatment for cancer. Following his arrest, KL court approved Mun’s extradition to the U.S. in December. 

Public records show that the Sinsar Trading company has not been paying taxes since 2017, and was removed from Singapore’s business registry list the same year. It was listed as a company dealing with “wholesale trade of a variety of goods without a dominant product.” 

Other stories to check out:

Of bribery and cybertroopers: Trial reveals what Rosmah Mansor spent her money on

‘F*ck Politics!’ banner in Ipoh pretty much captures Malaysia’s mood right now

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