A 59-year-old man from Earlwood in Sydney has been arrested by the Australian Federal Police overnight for conducting illicit trades on behalf of North Korea out of Australia.
In a press conference on Sunday, AFP assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan said the warrant was executed and the man, who is a naturalised Australian citizen and has lived in Australia for over 30 years, was arrested and charged over acting as an economic agent for North Korea.
The allegations mean the man would be in breach of both Australian and United Nations sanctions.
The AFP was tipped off by a foreign law enforcement agents earlier this year, and Gaughan said that the AFP allege he was attempting to broker the sale of missile components and expertise from North Korea to attempt to raise revenue for the government of North Korea.
According to Gaughan the man was also attempting to transfer coal from North Korea to places like Indonesia and Vietnam. Gaughan said that there was no evidence that government officials in those countries were involved.
The AFP believe that if the trades had been successful, it would have brought in tens of millions of dollars for the North Korean government.
Gaughan said there was no immediate threat to the Australian community.
"We are not suggesting there are any weapons or missile componentry that ever came to Australian soil," Gaughan said.
The man was purely attempting to raise revenue for North Korea for a patriotic purpose, Gaughan said.
The man is the first person to be charged under the Commonwealth weapons of mass destruction act, which has been in law since 1995.
"Clearly this is nothing like we have ever seen in Australian law enforcement," Gaughan said.
The AFP said that the actions of the man showed that the sanctions on North Korea were biting.
The AFP has not ruled out additional charges as a result of the investigation.
The man will appear before Parramatta bail court this morning.
Josh Taylor is a Senior Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Josh Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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