FBI Tracking North Korea’s Cryptocurrency-based Money Laundering in South Korea

The Financial Supervisory Service announced that suspicious cross-border remittances via South Korean banks are at least US$6.54 billion and most of the remittances were made from domestic cryptocurrency exchanges.

“This fact implies that most of the remittances to China, Hong Kong, and so on via trade companies and the banks are likely to be related to arbitrage cryptocurrency trading,” it said, adding, “At the same time, we are looking into those cases with the National Intelligence Service, prosecution and Korea Customs Service with the possibility of North Korea’s involvement open.”

According to the Financial Supervisory Service, the remittances were made while North Korea under U.S. economic sanctions began to focus on cryptocurrencies as its new financing tool. Alejandro Cao de Benos, head of the Korean Friendship Association, a pro-North group, hosted a cryptocurrency conference in Pyongyang in April 2019 at the request of North Korea. According to the FBI, American and British speakers at the conference suggested using cryptocurrencies in order to circumvent the sanctions.

The United States is calling for South Korea to take measures against cryptocurrency hacking by the North. “North Korea’s cryptocurrencies are converted into USD and EUR in the end and this means the United States and South Korea need to exchange information on money laundering networks,” said an U.S. expert.

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