Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was holding US$ 120,000 cash when he was killed at Kuala Lumpur airport in February, the Asahi Shimbun reports, citing unnamed Malaysian officials close to the investigation.
The investigation team reportedly recovered four bundles of mostly new $ 100 notes in stacks of 300, as well as a laptop and two mobile phones. Since Kim Jong-nam held a diplomatic passport, his luggage was not subjected to a thorough search at the airport.
In Malaysia, Kim Jong-nam met with a US citizen at a hotel four days before the assassination. The American, presumably, has links to an intelligence agency, the newspaper reported. Malaysian authorities suspect Kim might have been paid for some kind of information, the source told the paper, adding, that the sum in question had not been withdrawn at any bank in the country prior to the assassination.
Kim Jong-nam, 45, was murdered before boarding a plane to Macau from Kuala Lumpur Airport on February 13. The investigation found that Kim’s killers used the military-grade nerve agent VX.
Two women, Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam and Siti Aisyah from Indonesia, have been arrested and charged with the Kim’s murder.
The suspects were captured on airport CCTV cameras approaching Kim, with one putting a cloth over his face, presumably containing VX. The women have denied any wrongdoing, claiming they were tricked into believing they were participating in a hidden camera prank show. If found guilty, they could face the death penalty.
A North Korean man was also arrested over links to the assassination, but he was subsequently released due to lack of evidence. Malaysian authorities also searched for seven other North Koreans, but that proved futile, as the suspects have since left the country.
North Korea was denied the right to participate in the investigation which sparked a diplomatic row between the two countries. The spat eventually led to the two countries expelling each other’s ambassadors.