US Slams North Korean Banker With Double Indictment Over Crypto Laundering
The US regulators have reportedly accused a North Korean Bank official of using virtual private networks (VPNs) and digital assets to bypass US sections, redirecting revenues to North Korea.
According to the report, a district court in Washington DC declared two federal indictments on April 24. In addition, the court accused a N. Korean banker reportedly involved in crypto laundering schemes.
In the first indictment, an official of the North Korean Foreign Trade Bank (FTB), Sim Hyon Sop, was accused of laundering money he stole from digital asset service providers. In addition, he converted his loot to US dollars, spending it on goods, according to the filing.
Given the current sanctions the United States of America and the United Nations placed on North Korea, Sim’s actions were illegal. The filing also revealed the bigger picture of where North Koreans use digital assets and virtual private networks (VPNs) to deposit revenues to the N. Korean economy.
These processes allow them to easily bypass the sanctions on the country without being caught. In addition, reports suggested that the North Korean government have been secretly aiding and abetting some groups that have been hacking and stealing investors’ crypto assets over the year.
The US regulators have on several occasions accused the N. Korean government is behind the numerous crypto platform hacks. According to the US Treasury Department, the secret operatives stole about $1.7 billion from their illegal operations in 2022.
US Regulators Slam Sim With Second Indictment
According to the second indictment, Sim was accused of conniving with a team of N. Korean technicians to launder about $12 million. They illegally make money from the IT development jobs going on in the US.
Explaining further, the accusers were supposedly gaining employment at blockchain startups with fake identities between 2021 and 2023. To conceal their identity, these illegal workers usually ask their employees to pay them in USDT or USDC.
Hence, they would receive their salaries via crypto exchanges based in the US, as directed by the United States Department of Justice. Reports showed that these IT workers and Sim worked together to launder their savings and also send the funds to N. Korea.
In addition, the court filings suggested that N. Korea used the funds to generate more revenues for the country to support its WMD and ballistic missile programs.
According to the Department of Justice announcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently probing the laundering cases.
The US Cannot Punish The Defendants
In addition, the filings showed that the maximum punishment for money laundering is about 20 years.
Nonetheless, the N. Korean banker and his cohorts might not be punished even if found guilty of the offense.
This is because the majority of the IT workers are from Hong Kong and China. Hence, it is difficult for the US government to punish them. In addition, the US and China do not have any treaty in place that can allow extradition of the IT workers from China.
The Assistant Attorney General of the DoJ, Kenneth Polite stated that the indictment announcement showed that N. Korean secret internet groups are actively making attempts to evade the US and the UN sanctions. They exploit the numerous features of digital assets to easily make profits, and payments, and steal digital currency from firms.
Kenneth stated that the US regulators would continue to stop N. Korean agents and those that are helping them by processing the funds with blockchain technology.
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