Australian sentenced for breaching UN sanctions

By Shannon Jenkins

Wednesday July 28, 2021

Chan Han Choi
Chan Han Choi was found guilty of brokering sales and discussing the supply of weapons of mass destruction on behalf of North Korea. (AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi)

A 62-year-old Sydney man has been sentenced to more than three years imprisonment for brokering the sale of missile parts, coal and other commodities.

In a statement announcing the sentencing on Tuesday, Australian Federal Police noted the actions of the man were in contravention of Australian and United Nations sanctions.

The AFP arrested Eastwood man Chan Han Choi in December 2017, following an extensive investigation. The investigation, Operation Byahaut, found evidence Choi was ‘acting as an economic agent of North Korea, generating income for the government through his facilitation of various commodities to and from North Korea’, the AFP noted.

Choi has been sentenced to three years and six months imprisonment after pleading guilty to contravening sanctions under the commonwealth’s Charter of the United Nations Act 1945 and the Autonomous Sanctions Act 2011 in February. Choi had initially faced seven charges, according to ABC News, including providing services to assist a weapons of mass destruction program. 

AFP detective acting inspector Kris Wilson said the investigation was complex, with a unique international span.

“The actions of this man were in contravention of UN sanctions, which means a great deal of effort and organisation was required on his part to facilitate these illegal acts,” he said on Tuesday.

“The sale of these items could have jeopardised countless lives, and all AFP members involved in this investigation should be proud of their efforts.”

Operation Byahaut commenced in early 2017, when Choi was identified as a person of interest to the AFP.

Former AFP assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan previously described the case as ‘like nothing we have ever seen on Australian soil’.

“This is the first time charges have been laid under the Commonwealth Weapons of Mass Destruction Act in Australia, and the first time we have laid charges specifically for alleged breaches of UN sanctions against North Korea,” he said following Choi’s arrest.

“Any individual who attempts to fly in the face of sanctions cannot and will not go unnoticed in Australia.”


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