UN Says North Korea Funded Nuclear Weapons With Crypto Hacks in 2020: Report

U.N. experts estimate that over $316 million in crypto was stolen by North Korea-linked hackers last year.

Feb 9, 2021 at 3:19 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 12:09 p.m. UTC

Cryptocurrency hacks worth hundreds of millions of dollars were used to help fund North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs in 2020, according to United Nations experts.

  • A report sent to U.N. Security Council members on Monday said North Korea-linked criminals continued to attack financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges over last year.
  • The experts estimated that, from 2019 to November 2020, around $316.4 million in crypto assets had been stolen by these actors, according to an AP report Tuesday.
  • They cited a single September 2020 hack against a cryptocurrency exchange that stole $281 million worth of cryptocurrency.
  • That may be a reference to the breach at the KuCoin exchange breach, reported by CoinDesk in the same month.
  • The U.N. experts investigated activities conducted by North Korea’s intelligence agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, which is on the U.N. sanctions blacklist for targeting cryptocurrency and defense companies.
  • North Korea is said to be laundering stolen cryptocurrencies through over-the-counter brokers in China in order to acquire fiat currencies such as the U.S. dollar.


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