Over the past two decades, North Korean-born Han Hun Il, the founding chief executive of a Malaysian conglomerate, funneled money to the leadership in Pyongyang, a North Korean defector, speaking out for the first time, has said.

Han's conglomerate, Malaysia Korea Partners (MKP), worked in partnership with Jang Song Thaek, according to Lee Chol Ho, who worked as a trader for Han for nine years until he defected to Seoul in 2010. Jang, the uncle of North Korea's ruler Kim Jong Un, was considered one of North Korea's most powerful men until he was executed for treason in 2013.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm Lee's account of Han's relationship with North Korea's leadership, including his assertion that money was funneled to its leadership body, the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party.