KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s top court ruled that a North Korean man can be extradited to the United States to face money laundering charges, rejecting his assertion that the U.S. charge was politically motivated.
The Federal Court on Tuesday refused to accept Mun Chol Myong’s arguments because it was not a trial, and agreed with a lower court that prosecutors had followed procedures, said defense lawyer Gooi Soon Seng.
Mun, who is in his 50s, has lived in Malaysia for a decade and was arrested in May 2019 after U.S. authorities requested his extradition. Malaysia’s government approved the extradition, but Mun challenged the U.S. bid.
In his affidavit, Mun denied U.S. accusations that he was involved in supplying prohibited luxury goods from Singapore to North Korea in violation of U.N. sanctions while working in the city state before moving to Malaysia in 2008.
Mun denied that he laundered funds through front companies and that he issued fraudulent documents to support illicit shipments to his country. He said in his affidavit that he was the victim of a “politically motivated” extradition request aimed at pressuring North Korea over its missile program.
Gooi said Mun’s family was upset with the ruling and worried that he would not be given a fair trial in the U.S. He said the U.S. didn’t seek to extradite three Singaporeans who worked in the same company with Mun and were also charged in the U.S. with money laundering. The Singaporeans were also charged in the city state for breaching U.N. trade sanctions on North Korea and were fined.
“That’s why we are saying the offense is of a political nature,” Gooi said. “He is a pawn caught in the rivalry between the U.S. and North Korea.”
Gooi said Mun has to be deported within three months from Tuesday’s ruling and likely will be sent to the District of Columbia.