North Korea suspected of using blockchain firm to launder money, says UN

North Korea has been suspected of using a Hong Kong-based blockchain firm to launder money, according to a quarterly report from the UN Security Council’s Sanctions Committee.

As reported by South Korean news outlet Chosun on Wednesday, the UN committee has found that North Korea used blockchain-based shipping and logistics firm Marine China to bypass international sanctions for laundering stolen cryptocurrency.

A man named Julian Kim, under the alias Tony Walker, who was the sole owner and investor in Marine China had attempted to withdraw money from banks in Singapore several times, per the committee report.

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The committee further said that cryptocurrencies that North Korea stole last year were exchanged into cash with at least 5,000 separate transactions across several countries, making it "difficult to track."

North Korea applies “spear phishing,” the fraudulent practice of sending emails from a known or trusted sender to prompt targeted parties to reveal confidential information, for its attacks, per the committee report. Seventeen countries have been targeted by North Korea over the past three years, resulting in over $2 billion in losses, per the committee report.

In September, there were reports that North Korea is in the early stages of developing its own cryptocurrency to "avoid international sanctions and circumvent the U.S.-dominated global financial system."