A Sydney man could face at least ten years behind bars after being accused of acting as an economic agent for North Korea to generate millions of dollars.
It’s alleged the 59-year-old, who is described as a naturalised Australian citizen of Korean descent, was involved in “brokering sales and discussing the supply of weapons of mass destruction” with the rogue nation.
He was arrested during the search of his home in Eastwood on Saturday and also charged with attempting to transfer coal from North Korea to entities in Indonesia and Vietnam.
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The Australian Federal Police (AFP) believes the man was generating income for the North Korean Government, which flies in the face of sanctions imposed by Australia and the United Nations.
“This is blackmarket 101,” AFP Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan told a media conference on Sunday.
“People trying to use the blackmarket as a way to get things they shouldn’t get hold of and to receive revenue back in return,” he added.
“It’s all about making money for the North Korea government.”
“There are some financial records that indicate well over half a million dollars transferred that we’re aware of. But we estimate, if these trades had been successful we would be talking tens of millions of dollars.”
Assistant Commissioner Gaughan explained how the “complicated investigation” still had many avenues to probe.
“We’ll be looking back to about 2008 in relation to some of these charges. We’ll continue to carry out those inquiries over the coming months,” Assistant Commissioner Gaughan said.
“We felt it was important we took the overt action now to prevent further action taking place. And we’re confident we acted at the right time,” he added.
This is the first time a person has been charged under the Weapons of Mass Destruction Act.
“This case is like nothing we have ever seen on Australian soil.
“Any individual who attempts to fly in the face of sanctions cannot and will not go unnoticed in Australia.”
The man did not appear in Parramatta Court for a hearing on Sunday morning and did not apply for bail.