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Chinese Man Held In Australia For Involvement In North Korea’s Fake Cigarettes Scheme

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According to Australian officials on Wednesday, a Chinese man who was detained in Australia is being held pending extradition to the United States on suspicion of being involved in a North Korean plot to profit from the sale of fake cigarettes.

In response to an American request, Jin Guanghua was detained in Victoria State in March and is still being held, according to the Attorney General’s Department in Australia.

A department spokesperson said in a statement, “The individual is wanted to face prosecution in the United States for a number of sanctions, bank fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy offences.”

Unveiled last year, a United States indictment claims that Jin, a Chinese national, was engaged in bank fraud as part of a criminal plot by North Korea to profit from the buying and selling of tobacco. The indictment claims that North Korean banks utilized front firms to evade UN sanctions.

According to the FBI, Jin was one of three Chinese nationals working as middlemen to buy tobacco for businesses controlled by the North Korean government and military. The tobacco was then used to make fake cigarettes, which were sold for hard money.

According to the indictment, North Korea is one of the world’s biggest makers of illegal cigarettes, including knockoffs of Western and Japanese brands that are distributed in Asia. After being bought from foreign vendors, the raw tobacco was transported to Dalian, China, where it was smuggled into North Korea, it said.

Between 2009 and 2019, Jin participated in the conspiracy, according to the indictment.

A spokesman for the Victorian magistrates court said on Wednesday that Jin’s warrant was served in August and that he was sent back to the Metropolitan Remand Center to await extradition.

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