POLICE arrested a 59-year-old man on Sunday for allegedly acting as an “economic agent” for North Korea in Australia in breach of local and United Nations sanctions.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) raided a Sydney home on Sunday after an investigation showed the man was “acting as an economic agent of North Korea” by facilitating exports from the rogue state and generating income for the North Korean government.
He stands accused of “brokering the sale of missiles and missile componentry and expertise from North Korea to other international entities” and “attempting to transfer coal from North Korea to entities in Indonesia and Vietnam”, said the AFP in a press release.
The man is the first person to be charged under Australia’s 1995 Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention of Proliferation) Act and faces 10 years’ imprisonment if convicted.
“This case is like nothing we have ever seen on Australian soil. This is the first time charges have been laid under the Commonwealth Weapons of Mass Destruction Act in Australia, and the first time we have laid charges specifically for alleged breaches of UN sanctions against North Korea,” said AFP Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan.
“The Australian public should be assured that police have acted to ensure no direct risk to our community. The AFP endeavours to support international efforts to maintain peace and security.”
Australian authorities have been investigating the man for several months.
The arrest comes after a recent report from the Washington-based think-tank Institute for Science and International Security found that a total of 49 countries were in violation of the United Nations Security Council instruction between March 2014 and September 2017.
Eighteen countries were involved in imports of sanctioned goods and minerals from North Korea. Those in the Asia Pacific region include China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam. Countries in serious violation of sanctions had higher than average levels of corruption.
“Any individual who attempts to fly in the face of sanctions cannot and will not go unnoticed in Australia,” added Gaughan.
In Japan over the weekend, meanwhile, Tokyo police raided an insurance company called Kongo Hoken which serves the pro-Pyongyang Korean community over allegations it concealed assets from authorities.