North Korea has denied the United Nations’ accusations of illegally acquiring roughly $2 billion in a combination of cryptocurrency and fiat through a number of cryptocurrency exchange hacks, according to an official statement by a spokesperson from the National Coordination Committee of the DPRK (Democratic Republic of Korea) for Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism.
The statement, which was originally published by the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 1st, claimed that the United States and other “hostile forces” are attempting to damage North Korea’s reputation with these accusations:
“Such a fabrication by the hostile forces is nothing but a sort of a nasty game aimed at tarnishing the image of our Republic and finding justification for sanctions and pressure campaign against the DPRK,” the statement reads.
“The same old trick as the Hitler fascist propagandists”
“A question being raised is on such fabricated information, unreasonably accusing us with no scientific ground, reflected even in the Midterm Report of the Panel of Experts of the Sanctions Committee against the DPRK, the UN Security Council, which we have never ever recognized.”
The report then goes on to compare the behavior of the UN to the behavior of the Nazi party in the years leading up to World War II: “the fabrication of such a sheer lie by the ringleaders of cyber crime and all other crimes is quite an absurd act aimed at re-enacting the same old trick as the Hitler fascist propagandists used to cling to, often saying ‘tell a lie a hundred times and it will pass as a truth.’”
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The UN originally accused North Korea of crypto theft in early August
In August, Finance Magnates reported that the United Nations (UN), an intergovernmental organization that works to maintain international peace and security, originally accused North Korea of hacking cryptocurrency exchanges to fund Weapons of Mass Destruction programs.
“Democratic People’s Republic of Korea cyber actors, many operating under the direction of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, raise money for its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) programs, with total proceeds to date estimated at up to two billion US dollars,” the UN’s report stated.
According to Reuters, the report was based on research by a number of independent experts, who presented their findings to the UN Security Council’s committee on North Korean Sanctions.
The report also stated that cryptocurrency was particularly well-suited as a financial instrument for North Korea’s alleged purposes: the country’s “increasingly sophisticated” methods of stealing cryptocurrencies were used “to generate income in ways that are harder to trace and subject to less government oversight and regulation than the traditional banking sector.”
North Korean hackers also theoretically used a number of “web-based services” to launder the money that was stolen from cryptocurrency exchanges. While the report did not name any of these services specifically, they were likely “coin washing” platforms, which allow cryptocurrency holders to exchange “dirty” coins (that are cryptographically associated with illicit transactions) with “clean” ones (coins that have no illicit associations.)
Following the release of the report, the UN increased efforts to investigate North Korean cyber-attacks following the release of a report detailing efforts to accumulate wealth for weapons programs. Investigative efforts have found that the Reconnaissance General Bureau, a high-level North Korean military intelligence agency, is most likely behind the attacks.