UN Reveals How North Korea Uses Banks For Illegal Deals


A new report by the United Nations has revealed that global banks are being used to enable payments in illegal deals by North Korea.

“Global banks are involved in two main problems,” Hugh Griffiths, the head of the UN panel overseeing sanctions on North Korea, said in an interview Tuesday (March 12), according to Bloomberg. “They are facilitating the transfer of funds for prohibited ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products. And they’re also facilitating illegal coal exports involving deals organized by North Korean diplomats.”

One example used in the report showed how North Korean-directed payments totaling more than $500,000 were made through a JPMorgan Chase & Co. account in New York. The transactions were allegedly used for a coal shipment on board the vessel Wise Honest, with the coal then sold for almost $3 million.

After the country carried out numerous missile launches and nuclear weapons tests in 2017, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on North Korea, including bans on exports of iron, coal, lead, seafood and textiles, as well as certain oil-import restrictions.

Since then, North Korea has been using vessel identity fraud to deliver coal to Chinese ports as well “as numerous, large-scale transfers of coal in international waters to small, unidentified vessels,” according to the report. In the meantime, the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs are ongoing.

This isn’t the only way North Korea is trying to get around the sanctions. Last year it was reported that the country might turn to bitcoin to bypass them, accumulating the digital asset in its usual way — by hacking South Korean exchanges through spear-phishing attacks or email files laced with malware.

It was also revealed that North Korean hackers were responsible for multiple attacks on crypto exchanges that stole $6.99 million worth of tokens in 2017. In addition, the U.S. government publicly acknowledged that North Korea was behind the WannaCry computer virus, which affected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries.