The United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee on North Korea is accusing North Korea of laundering cyber currency through a blockchain-based shipping and logistics firm in Hong Kong. According to South Korean newspaper The Chosun Ilbo, the money laundering scheme is part of North Korea’s broader efforts to evade U.S. and international sanctions.
The committee’s investigation concluded that North Korea created a blockchain-based front company called Marine China in April:
The owner and sole investor in Marine China is a person named Julian Kim who also goes by the alias Tony Walker. He apparently appointed another person as head of the firm and attempted to withdraw money several times from banks in Singapore.
In its report, the committee noted that North Korea uses an elaborate series of transactions to mask its illicit activities. For example, last year’s stolen cyber currency was reportedly laundered through at least 5,000 individual transactions in multiple countries.
In addition, the report details various techniques North Korean cyber attackers have used to access their victims’ computers and funds, including spear-phishing attacks which have reportedly resulted in some $2 billion in damages.
North Korea’s cyber hacking efforts have drawn increasing attention in recent years, as the country’s leadership has struggled to obtain hard currency to counter the impact of ongoing sanctions. Experts believe that the North’s intelligence services recruit and groom their hackers from childhood.