North Korean National Sentenced for Money Laundering Offenses
DPRK Businessman Accessed the U.S. Financial System and Deceived U.S. Banks to Circumvent Sanctions Against North Korea
WASHINGTON – Mun Chol Myong (“Mun”), 55, a national of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), was sentenced today to time served of 45 months in prison for multiple money laundering offenses in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Mun laundered funds through the U.S. financial system as part of a scheme to raise capital and acquire goods for North Korea in violation of U.S. sanctions. Mun is the first ever DPRK national to be extradited to the United States. He now faces deportation proceedings.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney Matthew M. Graves and FBI Special Agent in Charge Alvin M. Winston, Sr., of the Minneapolis Field Office.
The indictment alleged that between April 2013 and November 2018, Mun and others conspired to transmit funds through the United States for the purpose of promoting bank fraud. Specifically, the indictment alleged 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 and thereby deceived U.S. correspondent banks into executing correspondent banking transactions that they would otherwise have rejected. The indictment identifies more than $1.2 million in illicit transactions. The indictment further alleged that Mun was affiliated with the DPRK’s primary intelligence organization, the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), which is the subject of U.S. and U.N. sanctions.
Mun pleaded guilty to all counts of the indictment, including one count of money laundering conspiracy, and four counts of money laundering, pursuant to an “Alford” plea, over the objection of the United States. Under the Alford plea, Mun pleaded guilty and avoided a trial but did not admit to the facts and conduct alleged in the indictment.
“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 Graves. “Those seeking to access the U.S. financial system cannot use front companies, fake invoices, third party payments, and other means to deceive U.S. financial institutions and hide the involvement of sanctioned individuals and entities. With our law enforcement partners, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is determined to disrupt North Korea’s use of the U.S. financial system in its attempts to undermine our national security.”
“The FBI prioritizes investigations involving the illegal export of controlled U.S. technology and the use of the U.S. financial system to purchase prohibited luxury goods like liquor and tobacco,” said Special Agent in Charge Winston. “We appreciate the assistance of our international partners who helped dismantle this North Korean revenue-generation scheme and bring the defendant to justice.”
This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office and coordinated by the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. The Department of Justice would also like to thank the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) Investigative Operations Division (IOD) for providing analytical support during the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tejpal S. Chawla and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael P. Grady for the District of Columbia, and Trial Attorney David C. Recker of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section prosecuted the case, with support from Paralegal Specialist Brian Rickers and Legal Assistant Jessica McCormick. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance in securing Mun’s arrest and extradition. The FBI’s Washington Field Office also provided substantial support during the extradition and investigation.