South Korea reveals staggering $1 bln transfer fraud in Iranian money

South Korea reveals staggering $1 bln transfer fraud in Iranian money

South Korean prosecutors have detained and charged a Korean American with the illegal transfer of a staggering 1.09 trillion won ($1.02 billion) in Iranian money frozen in South Korea under international sanctions, the lawyers said on Friday, Reuters reported.

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.

Chung had contacts in Iran and the United Arab Emirates and was suspected of transferring the money into accounts in third countries, the prosecutor said.

The prosecutors' office and the Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK) confirmed media reports that identified the state-owned lender as the financial institution that held the Iranian central bank account.

IBK had received a payment order from the Iranian central bank, the bank and prosecutors said. It believed the order to be authentic because Chung had attached authorisation from the Bank of Korea and a government agency that tracks exports of goods to countries under international sanctions, the prosecution said.

Korean exporters and traders must get prior clearance from the government for products they plan to sell to Iran.

"This is a criminal case perpetrated by an individual to circumvent the Korea-Iran won transaction system and the Bank of Korea's approval system," the prosecutors' office said in a statement.

However, prosecutors couldn't track down who placed the order from Iran because South Korea does not have an agreement with Tehran to cooperate on criminal cases.

Chung was being held in detention and neither he nor his legal representative was available for comment. Law enforcement officials in South Korea often withhold criminal suspects' full names because it possible for the accused to sue for libel regardless of the outcome of the case against him.

International sanctions have made it difficult for Iran to transmit oil payments from South Korea and other countries. The Iranian central bank has an equivalent of $5-$6 billion in won-denominated accounts in South Korea, industry sources have said.

"We believe involvement of (entities in) Iran is possible," the prosecutor said, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

South Korean exporters and traders usually collect payments by withdrawing from won-denominated deposits of the Iranian central bank that are mostly generated by Iran's oil sales in South Korea.

South Korea's imports of crude oil from Iran dropped 35.6 percent last year after the sanctions were imposed, data from state-run Korea National Oil Corp showed this month.

Iran had a $2.3 billion trade surplus with South Korea in 2012, official data shows. ($1 = 1,069 won)

Volume of food products sold in trade network of Azerbaijan’s Baku city increases
Volume of food products sold in trade network of Azerbaijan’s Baku city increases
Precious metal prices in Azerbaijan down
Precious metal prices in Azerbaijan down
SOCAR becomes main supplier of Lithuanian gasoline to Ukraine
SOCAR becomes main supplier of Lithuanian gasoline to Ukraine
Loading Bars
Latest
Kazakh airlines launch new flight to Uzbekistan
Uzbekneftegaz, Gazprombank co-op to increase hydrocarbon production
Investment in development of Chabahr Port continues
Britain starts formal countdown in 'final chapter' of Libor
Volume of food products sold in trade network of Azerbaijan’s Baku city increases
Maritime India Summit-2021 celebrates ‘Chabahar Day’
Egyptair to replace Sinai Air on Tel Aviv - Cairo route
US experts visit war-torn areas of Azerbaijan's Tartar (PHOTOS)
Three possible scenarios on economic dev't regarding COVID-19 crisis in Georgia
Kazakhstan reports increase in overall 2020 trade with Greece
Precious metal prices in Azerbaijan down
Small solar photovoltaic station launched in Uzbekistan’s Tashkent region
Kazakh National Bank shares data on money transfers via payment systems for 2020
Azerbaijan's Internet provider increases contribution to country's educational sphere
PASHA Bank talks possible development of 'neo-banks', information security in Azerbaijan
SOCAR becomes main supplier of Lithuanian gasoline to Ukraine
Azerbaijan to study underground water resources through satellite images
Kazakhstan discloses target volume of electricity generation for 2021
Fidelity Investments Inc acquires shares of Bank of Georgia
Deposits dev’t of Turkmenistan’s Uzynada field to increase oil, gas condensate production
Kazakhstan's only lowcoster launching direct flights to Turkey
Azerbaijan names amount of compensations paid to closed banks' depositors
Georgia reports 390 new COVID-19 cases for March 5
Russia documents 11,024 COVID-19 cases in 24 hours
Turkmenistan plans to drill new wells at North Goturdepe field
Public catering turnover for January 2021 in Baku drops
Kazakhstan to commission several new petrochemical plants
Kazakhstan preparing concept for further Kashagan field dev't
Uniper increases natural gas sales
Uniper sees €160 million increase in adjusted net income y-o-y
International Fund for Agricultural Development helping Georgia modernize agriculture sector
Uzkimyosanoat, Shell talk modernization of Uzbekistan’s chemical enterprises
Kazakhstan’s Almaty Power Stations JSC opens tender for electrical work services
Kazakhstan boosts trade turnover with China in 2020
President Ilham Aliyev delivers speech at congress of ruling party
With OPEC+ restraint in place during April, upward pressure on prices to continue
President Aliyev sends condolences to President Erdogan regarding helicopter crash
Uzbekistan, Belarus agree on increasing permits for road transport of goods for 2021
Rosselkhoznadzor allows number of Uzbek companies to import tomatoes to Russia
Saipem to take part in green hydrogen hub creation in Italy
Kazakhstan announces 2021 oil production plans
Average monthly salary in Baku in 2020 grows
Azerbaijan shares footage from Fuzuli's Yukhary Rafadinli village (VIDEO)
US congressman Steve Cohen issues statement on Khojaly tragedy's anniversary
Kazakhstan to start partial sales of petroleum products through commodity exchanges
Turkmenistan defines tasks for "Single Window for export-import operations"
Kazakhstan to increase oil extraction volumes within OPEC+ agreement
Kazakhstan’s KazTransOil opens tender for wells servicing
Azerbaijan's Aghdam - now huge field of ruins, BBC report says (VIDEO)
Southern Gas Corridor CJSC's needs for cash in 2021 to be fully covered by proceeds from projects
Azerbaijani currency rates for March 5
Uzbek chemical production company to buy technological equipment via tender
Azerbaijani oil prices on the rise
Creator of Tukish 'Bayraktar' UAV talks General, who died in helicopter crash
Uzbekistan reveals its COVID-19 data for March 5
Ceyhan terminal transships over 36 million tons of ACG oil since early 2021
Oil prices surge as OPEC+ extends output cuts into April
Uzbekistan’s fiscal policy to continue supporting economic recovery - Fitch Ratings
Azerbaijani FM extends condolences to Turkey over helicopter crash
Kazakhstan eyes to strengthen interaction with int'l financial organizations
Azerbaijan's Ministry of Ecology plans to implement projects in liberated territories
Azerbaijan records growth in Jan.2021 lending to agricultural sector
Turkmenistan's Balkan region opens tender for recreation center construction
Kazakhstan’s COVID-19 daily case count stands at 857
Turkey reports 11,322 new COVID-19 cases
Official says satisfied with results of human trial of Iranian COVID-19 vaccine
WHO Europe hopeful Covid-19 vaccines arrive in Georgia in coming weeks
Azerbaijani defense minister expresses condolences to Turkish side
China sets modest GDP growth target as economy improves
Kazakhstan may take part in restoration of Azerbaijani liberated lands
Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Tonga evacuate people over tsunami threat
6.5-magnitude quake hits Kermadec Islands region
Uzbek and Belarusian experts to exchange experience in standardization
Italy reports nearly 23,000 new COVID-19 cases as some see "third wave"
5.9-magnitude quake jolts central Greece, no injuries reported
Georgian Railway expects to refinance Eurobonds
UK records another 6,573 coronavirus cases, 242 deaths
Azerbaijan agrees to continue existing oil production cuts in April (PHOTO)
7.3-magnitude quake hits waters off New Zealand
Armenia can also benefit from regional transportation projects if behaves in normal way - President Aliyev
Azerbaijan becomes one of Eurasia's main and reliable transportation, logistics hub - President Aliyev
We invite ECO member states to benefit from “Zangazur corridor” - President of Azerbaijan
We condemn unequal, unfair distribution of vaccines among developing and developed countries - President Aliyev
Now we are looking into future - President Aliyev
Military victory over Armenia on battlefield was also fully accomplished by political ways - President Aliyev
Stronger Turkey is, stronger is Azerbaijan and all its partners - President Aliyev
IAEA chief: Technical meeting with Iran to be held in April
WHO praises Georgia for curbing Covid-19
Belarusian BELAVIA airlines operating one-way flights on Baku-Minsk route
Macron to spare Paris region from weekend lockdown, for now
Kazakhstan determines priorities of foreign policy
Compliance services become more relevant in Azerbaijan - PASHA Bank
Several servicemen killed in military helicopter crash in Turkey
Azerbaijan doing everything to create new transport infrastructure in South Caucasus – Russian analyst
New reality created in South Caucasus - head of department at Istanbul Kadir Has University
Demining of Azerbaijani lands complicated by Armenia’s refusal to provide maps of minefields - Expert
Long-awaited end to Karabakh conflict creates new opportunities - Former US ambassador to Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan shows footage from Kechikli village of Zangilan district (VIDEO)
Azerbaijan interested in strengthening export and investment potential with Argentina
President Aliyev gives speech at virtual Summit of Economic Cooperation Organization (PHOTO/VIDEO)
All news