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The United Nations is accusing North Korea of using a blockchain firm in Hong Kong to carry out money laundering schemes and other illicit activities. The English version of the Korean news outlet Chosun reported that the UN Security Council’s Sanctions Committee has initiate the investigation on North Korea regarding the issue.
North Korea has a proven history of cyber attacks and home-grown hackers. The country has about 200 groups of hackers overseas and the North Korean intelligence agency has been training selected individuals to become cyber agents from childhood and turn them into hackers capable of stealing cryptocurrency.
In its quarterly report, the UN Security Council’s Sanctions Committee on North Korea accuses that North Korean actors established a blockchain-focused shipping and logistics firm called “Marine China” registered in Hong Kong. The committee also alleges that North Korea used cryptocurrency to evade international sanctions.
The blockchain company is reportedly owned by a person named Julian Kim who operates under the alias “Tony Walker.” Kim, who has been the sole investor of Marine China has appointed an unknown individual as the head of the firm and allegedly attempted to withdraw money several times from banks in Singapore.
The UN investigation further revealed that North Korean hackers made it difficult to track the stolen cryptocurrency in 2018 by converting it into cash. They conducted more than 5,000 transactions separately through several countries in order to launder money; thus, making it difficult to track.
The report also reveals another method called spear-phishing with which North Korean hackers used to target a certain mark and then launch precision attacks to steal digital currency. The report estimates that about 17 countries have been targeted by this attack over the past few years and stole an approximate amount of $2 billion. In 2016 North Korea used this method to get into the computer system of Banks in Bangladesh.
“One malicious code developed by North Korean hackers was designed to funnel stolen bitcoins to a server at Pyongyang’s Kim Il-sung University,” Chosun reports.
$2 Billion Stolen from Banks and Crypto Exchanges for Nukes
Previously, the UN committee alleged that the stolen $2 billion from banks and crypto exchanges via cyberattacks used to finance its weapon of mass destruction project. The North Korean regime has denied this allegation vehemently.
“According to some estimates, the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] has managed to generate around $2 billion using cyber-attacks, which represents a significant portion of the DPRK’s revenue stream,” the UN stated.
However, the spokesperson of the national coordination committee of DPRK denied the accusation made the UN and called it sheer lie.