Former North Korean Diplomat Indicted on Charges of Smuggling and Bank Fraud

Former North Korean diplomat indicted for smuggling goods, money laundering, and deceiving US banks, highlighting US efforts to crack down on sanctions evasion.

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Emmanuel Abara Benson
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Former North Korean Diplomat Indicted on Charges of Smuggling and Bank Fraud

Former North Korean Diplomat Indicted on Charges of Smuggling and Bank Fraud

A former North Korean diplomat Ri Myong Ho has been indicted on 20 criminal charges for smuggling goods into North Korea and deceiving U.S. banks while serving at the DPRK Embassy in Thailand from February 2015, according to a U.S. Justice Department announcement on Tuesday. The charges against Ri Myong Ho include conspiracy, money laundering, and bank fraud.

Ri Myong Ho is accused of using his diplomatic position to enable the smuggling of goods into North Korea in violation of U.S. sanctions, as well as misleading U.S. banks to conceal these activities. The indictment alleges that he engaged in money laundering and other illicit activities during his time at the DPRK Embassy in Thailand.

Why this matters: This case highlights the ongoing efforts by the U.S. government to crack down on sanctions evasion and other illicit activities supporting North Korea's nuclear program. The indictment of a former North Korean diplomat underscores the global reach of these enforcement actions.

Ri Myong Ho is currently a fugitive and has been placed on the wanted list by the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Washington D.C. The public is advised to contact the HSI Tip Line at 877-4-HSI-TIP (877-447-4847) if they have any information on his whereabouts, as the line is staffed 24/7.

The investigation by HSI Washington D.C. led to the indictment of the former North Korean official for his involvement in a conspiracy to violate U.S. economic sanctions, bank fraud, and international money laundering. "One of our top priorities is to investigate violations of U.S. sanctions and the deceptive practices used to disguise illicit transactions," said Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Lechleitner of HSI Washington, D.C.

Key Takeaways

  • Former N. Korean diplomat Ri Myong Ho was indicted on 20 criminal charges.
  • Accused of smuggling goods into N. Korea and deceiving U.S. banks.
  • The investigation led to an indictment for sanctions violation, bank fraud, and money laundering.