Police say the man was generating tens of millions of dollars for Pyongyang by arranging the sale of missiles, componentry and expertise from North Korea to other worldwide entities, and was trying to arrange the transfer of coal from the country to Indonesia and Vietnam.
It is the first time a person in Australia has been charged with brokering sales and discussing the supply of weapons of mass destruction.
"The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has arrested a 59-year-old Sydney man for allegedly acting as an economic agent for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Government (North Korea) in Australia..."
No weapons or missile componentry ever came to Australia, and authorities said there was no threat to the Australian community.
These actions are alleged breaches of United Nations and Australian sanctions.
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The Australian Federal Police allege the man was generating income for Pyongyang by brokering the sale of computer software for the guidance of ballistic missiles to other "international entities". In February, China banned all coal imports from North Korea.
Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan said this morning investigators carefully and methodically investigated the actions of this individual over a period of months.
He also said there was no indication officials in Indonesia or Vietnam had been involved in the attempted coal sales. Police would allege all of the activity - allegedly a classic black market operation created to sell products from North Korea to other worldwide entities - occurred offshore.
Police say there was evidence that Mr Chan had been in contact with "high ranking officials in North Korea", reported BBC News.
"This is blackmarket 101", AFP Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan told a media conference on Sunday. "It's the same with the coal and oil and gemstones - it's all about making money for North Korea", he said.
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Assistant Commissioner Gaughan said Mr Chan had been under investigation since earlier this year, after the AFP received information from its worldwide law enforcement partners.
Mr Chan did not appear in Parramatta local court this morning and has been refused bail.
The maximum penalty for the offences is 10 years' imprisonment.
Investigations are continuing and further charges against the man have not been ruled out.
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