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Prosecution takes into custody head of NGO over allegations of smuggling currency into N. Korea

All News 20:18 November 09, 2022

SEOUL, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) -- Prosecution took into custody a man suspected of colluding with Ssangbangwool Group to smuggle huge sums of foreign currency into North Korea about three years ago, according to judicial sources.

The Suwon District Prosecutors Office apprehended the chief of the Asia Pacific Exchange Association, a Seoul-based nongovernmental organization, at an unidentified place in Seoul where he was hiding out, on charges of violating the Foreign Exchange Transactions Act.

Prosecutors have been investigating allegations that Ssangbangwool, South Korea's leading underwear company, secretly sent millions of U.S. dollars to China in 2019 and that the money was sent to North Korea.

They allege that dozens of Ssangbangwool executives and employees took part in the alleged currency smuggling by hiding dollars inside books on their trips to China to deliver them to North Korea.

Prosecutors suspect the man, only identified by his surname An, played a role in the crime.

Ssangbangwool and the NGO are suspected of handing US$1.5 million and US$500,000, respectively, to the North.

Prosecutors are also looking into possibility that support funds the NGO received from Gyeonggi Province were part of the money sent to the North.

The province surrounding Seoul provided about 2 billion won (US$1.46 million) to the NGO on two occasions between 2018-19 for an event where North Korean officials attended, and delivered flour and saplings to the North.

An undated file photo of the prosecution logo (Yonhap)

An undated file photo of the prosecution logo (Yonhap)

nyway@yna.co.kr
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