(ATTN: UPDATES headline, lead and 2-4 paras)
SUWON, South Korea, Nov. 11 (Yonhap) — A court on Friday issued an arrest warrant for the chairman of the Asia Pacific Exchange Association (APEA), a Seoul-based private organization, on suspicion of sent unauthorized foreign currency funds to North Korea.
The Suwon District Court in Suwon, south of Seoul, issued the warrant against the head of the APEA, identified only by his surname An, for violating the Foreign Exchange Law and inciting concealment of evidence.
An is believed to have gone into hiding between late September and early October as prosecutors investigate various suspicions about him, but was apprehended in Seoul on Wednesday.
Prosecutors suspect An was involved in the alleged smuggling of millions of US dollars by underwear maker Ssangbangwool Group into China in early 2019, and that the money was eventually funneled to North Korea. They suspect dozens of company executives and employees were involved in the alleged currency smuggling while traveling in China.
By law, foreign currency exceeding USD 10,000 must be declared to customs when taken out of the country.
Prosecutors reportedly recently detected circumstances indicating that Ssangbangwool and APEA delivered $1.5 million and $500,000, respectively, to North Korea. In addition, they are reportedly investigating whether any funds from Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds Seoul, were included in the APEA money allegedly sent to the North.