A Hong Kong-based blockchain company has been used as a front to launder money for North Korea, South Korean newspaper Chosun reported on 6 November.
The publication cites a new quarterly report from the United Nations Security Council’s Sanctions Committee on North Korea, which conducted an investigation into the various ways North Korea evades sanctions using cryptocurrencies. The report alleges that the country used a blockchain-focused shipping and logistics firm called Marine China to launder stolen stolen cryptocurrency.
The sole owner and investor into the company was an individual named Julian Kin, also known under his alias as Tony Walker, who allegedly attempted to withdraw cash from Singaporean banks several times. The laundering scheme, which involved another unnamed individual, used at least 5,000 discrete transactions in multiple countries to make the laundering “difficult to track”.
The investigation further alleges that North Korea has developed “spear-phishing” methods, to conduct precision attacks on its targets. It also notes that North Korean hackers use a malicious code, which is designed to move stolen cryptocurrencies to a server located at the Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang.
Recently, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned three hacker groups who allegedly were sponsored by North Korea, and stole cryptocurrency for its government. In August, a U.N. report alleged that 17 countries have been targeted by North Korean hackers, which resulted in damages totaling over $2 billion, an accusation which the country’s regime has denied.
A September report from Vice also alleges that North Korea is in the early stages of developing its own central bank digital currency, which will be similar to Bitcoin, in an attempt to avoid international sanctions.