N Korea ‘increasingly’ using cryptocurrency to evade sanctions

16-Apr-2019 Intellasia | Sky | 6:38 AM Print This Post

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin only play a peripheral role in North Korea’s nuclear programme, but they could pose a challenge.

North Korea is increasingly using cryptocurrency to bypass international sanctions and could use it to help fund programmes to build weapons of mass destruction, a report says today.

This form of money, such as Bitcoin, probably only plays a peripheral role in Pyongyang’s fundraising and sanctions-evasion efforts at present, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) paper said.

“However, the sophistication of North Korea’s broader cyber crime operations and its general demand for ongoing financial resources present the risk that its cryptocurrency activity could become a sustained security challenge,” it said.

The scale and scope of North Korean cryptocurrency activity has grown since 2017.

“The prospect of North Korea engaging in large-scale sanctions circumvention using cryptocurrencies as a means of payment for prohibited service such as luxury goods or facilitating prohibited transfers is a risk that could grow as well,” the report added.

Pyongyang’s holdings of cryptocurrencies could be between $545m (GBP 416m) and $735m (GBP 561m), depending on valuation, it said.

The report noted such estimates come with caveats as it is not clear how much of the money has been converted into a traditional currency such as dollars.



Category: Korea

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