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S. Korea reveals staggering $1b transfer fraud in Iranian money

Published on Jan 25, 2013 8:05 PM

SEOUL (REUTERS) - South Korean prosecutors have detained and charged a Korean American with the illegal transfer of a staggering 1.09 trillion won (S$1 billion) in Iranian money frozen in South Korea under international sanctions, the lawyers said today.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office said a 73-year-old man, identified only by his family name, Chung, was suspected of making fraudulent transfers in 2011 from the Iranian central bank's won-denominated account at a South Korean bank by using fake invoices for payment.

Prosecutors marvelled at the scale of the withdrawals, indicating they believed there had to be more than one person involved. The prosecutors' office said those involved took advantage of a banking procedure that was now more tightly supervised.

What was not immediately clear was whether this was an attempt to break sanctions targeting Iran's controversial nuclear programme, or whether this was just a criminal scam, albeit a very large one. A prosecutor with direct knowledge of the case declined to comment on whether the transfers violated the sanctions.

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