A lapel pin bearing the portrait of the late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung is displayed on the shirt of North Korean embassy counsellor Kim Yu Song as he arrives at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur for a hearing earlier this month involving Mun Chol Myong, the North Korean man who faces extradition from Malaysia to the US on money-laundering charges. Photo: AFP / Mohd Rasfan

A North Korean man is likely to face money-laundering charges in the United States after a Malaysian court approved his extradition Friday, in a case his lawyers claim is politically motivated.

Mun Chol Myong has denied FBI claims that he led a criminal group that violated sanctions by supplying luxury goods to his isolated homeland and laundered funds through front companies.

The 54-year-old, who has lived in Malaysia with his family for a decade, was arrested in May following an extradition request from Washington.

His defense team claims he was involved only in the supply of palm oil and soybean oil to the North.

“I am sad and disappointed with the court action,” said his lawyer Jagjit Singh, who previously criticized the extradition bid as “solely based on politics.”

Jagjit said his client would not be deported before a final appeal, likely to be heard early next year.

Mun has been in custody since his arrest.

He is accused of four charges of money-laundering and two of conspiracy to launder money, mainly in relation to his work for a firm in neighboring Singapore.

His case has shone a spotlight on trade ties between Pyongyang and Singapore, with several companies in the city charged in recent times over shipping banned goods to the North.

The export to the North of some goods, including luxury items, has been banned as part of sweeping sanctions imposed on Pyongyang by the United Nations and countries including the US over its weapons program.

Last month, a Singapore court jailed the director of a trading firm for nearly three years for supplying $4.4 million worth of goods – ranging from alcohol to cosmetics and watches – to the North.


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