North Korean staying in Malaysia for over 10 years slapped with money laundering charges in the US

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KUALA LUMPUR (June 24): A 54-year-old North Korean businessman who had purchased a home under Malaysia My Second Home program has been refused bail by the magistrates court today, after he had been indicted by a United States court for five counts of money laundering.

Mun Chol Myong, 54, who has been in Malaysia for more than 10 years and has two daughters and a cancer-stricken wife, had been detained by the Malaysian authorities since May 14.

This followed an indictment request from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations for charges against him on alleged money laundering of luxury goods.

Magistrate Noorasyikin Sahat in her decision dismissed his bail application.

This is on grounds that the suspect can seek treatment for his ailment from the Prisons Department as well as that his wife had been having cancer for the past 10 years, and the defence, comprising Datuk Jagjit Singh and Datuk Akberdin Abdul Kader, had not shown any evidence that no medical treatment was given to Mun or that his wife suffered a relapse of the illness.

"Furthermore, the United States has an unstable diplomatic relationship with North Korea and hence there could be a reason for him being a flight risk," she said, adding that although Mun had purchased a home here, it is not a valid reason for him not to be held further.

Noorasyikin hence fixed July 4 for mention on the possibility of the court transferring the extradition proceeding to the Sessions Court.

Jagjit and Akberdin had asked that their client be released on bail after 39 days of being held in remand on the grounds that Mun is sick while he was in prison awaiting his extradition proceedings.

"He is only given Panadol for his ailment. Furthermore, his wife is suffering a relapse of cancer and that the court can impose conditions for Mun to be released on bail.

"Mun had never been to the United States, and although Malaysia has a treaty with the United States in terms of extradition, it is not necessary that this country comply with the US' request," they said.

Akberdin cited the case involving convicted murderer Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, who had been found guilty by the Federal Court of murdering Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu, but Australia, which is holding him, is not willing to have him returned, even though Malaysia had signed a treaty with Australia.

However, Australia is not returning Sirul as the country opposes the imposition of capital punishment on an accused person.

Jagjit also said a representative of the North Korean embassy was also present at the proceedings and this showed they vouched that Mun would not be a flight risk.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Faizul Aswad Masri and DPP Lim Ju Vynn in objecting bail cited there are no special circumstances for the court to grant bail as medical treatment had been given by the prison authorities.

Faizul cited former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng's extradition proceedings as an example, where the Malaysian was not allowed to be given bail until he is extradited to the United States.

"The accused remains a flight risk, as we do not have diplomatic ties with North Korea," he added.

The DPP further added that money laundering is a non-bailable offence in Malaysia and that under the Extradition Act 1992, the Home Minister can hold a person who had been accused for 60 days pending the extradition hearing.

Despite the reasons given, Noorasyikin denied bail for Mun.

Akberdin said they will seek further instruction from their client on whether to review the magistrates court's decision today in not granting bail.