A North Korean businessman was sentenced Friday to 45 months in prison for multiple money laundering offenses in an effort to raise money and provide luxury goods for the rogue nation’s regime and to evade U.S. sanctions that have crippled the country’s fledgling economy.
Mun Chol Myong, 55, was given credit for time served during his sentencing in a Washington D.C., federal court. He was extradited to the United States in 2021 after being accused of defrauding U.S. banks to the tune of $1.2 million.
He pleaded guilty on all counts in a criminal indictment, including, one count of money laundering conspiracy, and four counts of money laundering. He pleaded guilty to avoid a trial but did not admit to the facts of the indictment, federal prosecutors said.
Myong had been detained in Malaysia and is the first North Korean citizen to be extradited to the U.S.
“This case is significant because the defendant was not merely securing alcohol, tobacco, and other commodities for North Korea, but also providing income streams needed to prop up the regime and finance its nefarious activities,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves.
North Korea has been under sanctions from the U.S. and the United Nations as well as arms embargoes intended to prevent the country from acquiring military equipment and related materials.
Federal prosecutors said Myong and other co-conspirators transmitted funds through the U.S. using a network of front companies and falsified transaction records to conceal that the payments benefited sanctioned North Korean entities.
In an effort to conceal the deception, Myong used bank accounts under false names and omitted references to North Korea on international wire transfers.
The scheme fooled American banks into processing transactions that would ultimately benefit North Korea. The banks would have otherwise refused to handle such transactions.
Authorities also alleged Myoung was affiliated with North Korean’s main intelligence agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, which is also sanctioned by the U.S.
The U.S. has initiated deportation proceedings against him, the Justice Department said.