North Korea finances TBML with US$1.5 billion war chest

North Korea continues to import and export goods despite extensive sanctions imposed on it by using trade-based money laundering (TBML) techniques and finance from a US$1.5 billion cryptocurrency war chest according to experts who participated in a webinar organised by Chainanalysis.

The blockchain analysis company said it is comfortable with the US$1.5 billion figure stated in a recent webinar, even though documentary evidence to support this estimate appears to be needed and the figure represents a substantial increase on estimates that the country holds between US$200-500 million of cryptocurrency.

Cross-border payments

“When it comes to trade-based money laundering, the issue, especially for sanctioned actors, is cross-border money movements,” says global head of policy and regulatory affairs for Chainalysis, Jesse Spiro.

Chainalysis says it has mapped the flow cryptocurrency it claims has been stolen by North Korean hackers to various exchanges where it is believed it is used to finance TBML operations.

Evidence needed

Non-resident fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Priscilla Moriuchi, says the “logical conclusion” is North Korea is using cryptocurrencies to fund trade networks, but evidence documenting this cross-border movement is still in the early stages of being published.

“I believe it is happening but that we have not been able to document the end-to-end lifecycle yet. We have many pieces of the puzzle we just do not have the complete picture,” Moriuchi said.

A recording of the webinar organised by Chainanalysis, North Korean-linked cryptocurrency addresses and sanctions: How blockchain analysis can help you investigate and stay compliant, can be found here.

Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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