UN report: N. Korea used millions in stolen cryptocurrencies to support banned weapons programmes

UN report: N. Korea used millions in stolen cryptocurrencies to support banned weapons programmes

North Korea has stolen more than $300 million worth of cryptocurrencies through cyberattacks in recent months to support its banned nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, a confidential UN report… Indian companies and individuals are unlikely to be allowed to pull a Tesla and stash excess cash in cryptocurrencies that have been on an eye-popping surge if a new bill proposed by the government is cleared by parliament. Naija247news.com is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

Compiled by a panel of experts monitoring sanctions on Pyongyang, the report said the country’s “total theft of virtual assets from 2019 to November 2020 is valued at approximately $316.4 million”, citing a UN member state.

Financial institutions and exchanges were hacked to generate revenue for Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development, said the report, which was seen by AFP.

The vast majority of the proceeds came from two thefts late last year.

The North is known to operate an army of thousands of well-trained hackers who have attacked firms, institutions and researchers in South Korea and elsewhere.

It has also been accused of exploiting its cyber capabilities for financial gain.

The North is under multiple sets of international sanctions over its banned nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, which have made rapid progress under leader Kim Jong Un.

A summit between Kim and then-US president Donald Trump in Hanoi in February 2019 broke down over sanctions relief and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.

Nuclear talks have been stalled ever since, while the North showed off several new missiles at military parades in October and last month, when Kim pledged to strengthen his nuclear arsenal.

The UN panel said it was investigating a September 2020 hack against a cryptocurrency exchange that resulted in $281 million worth of cryptocurrencies being stolen.

A second cyberattack siphoned off $23 million a month later.

“Preliminary analysis, based on the attack vectors and subsequent efforts to launder the illicit proceeds strongly suggests links to the DPRK,” the report said, using the initials for the North’s official name.

Pyongyang’s cyberwarfare abilities first came to global prominence in 2014 when it was accused of hacking into Sony Pictures Entertainment as revenge for “The Interview”, a satirical film that mocked leader Kim.

The attack resulted in the posting of several unreleased movies as well as a vast trove of confidential documents online.

The North is also blamed for a huge, $81 million cyber-heist from the Bangladesh Central Bank, as well as the theft of $60 million from Taiwan’s Far Eastern International Bank.

The North’s hackers have allegedly stepped up campaigns to raise funds by attacking cryptocurrency exchanges as the value of bitcoin and other cybercurrencies soared.

They were blamed for the 2017 WannaCry global ransomware cyberattack, which infected some 300,000 computers in 150 nations encrypting user files and demanding hundreds of dollars from their owners for the keys to get them back.

Pyongyang has denied the accusations, saying it has “nothing to do with cyber-attacks”.

(AFP)

Source: www.france24.com

Author: Text by:


Individuals, Corporates To Be Fined For Using Cryptocurrencies: Draft Law

Individuals, Corporates To Be Fined For Using Cryptocurrencies: Draft Law

Popular cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have been rising in valuation globally.

New Delhi:

Indian companies and individuals are unlikely to be allowed to pull a Tesla and stash excess cash in cryptocurrencies that have been on an eye-popping surge if a new bill proposed by the government is cleared by parliament.

Expected to be introduced in this legislative session, a draft bill proposes a complete ban on all private cryptocurrencies – decentralised digital money that is prized for being untraceable and a buoyant valuation, sources have told NDTV.

The bill will also lay the groundwork for an official digital currency – which are different because they can be regulated by a country’s central bank – and its ties to the Reserve Bank of India or RBI.

Exchanges, people, traders and other financial systems’ participants will not be allowed to deal with cryptocurrencies and penalties have been proposed for any violation by individuals as well as corporate bodies.

The decision comes after an inter-ministerial committee including the RBI felt that private cryptocurrencies will pose a threat to the financial stability of the country.

Both the government and RBI have been warning about virtual currencies and have advised all banks and financial establishments not to deal with them.

Nearly 7 million Indians hold cryptocurrencies worth over $1 billion and there has been an over 700 per cent increase in the last year, according to official estimates.

In mid-2019, an Indian government panel recommended banning all private cryptocurrencies, with a jail term of up to 10 years and heavy fines for anyone dealing in digital currencies.

The RBI had in April 2018 ordered financial institutions to break off all ties with individuals or businesses dealing in virtual currency such as bitcoin within three months.

However, in March 2020, the Supreme Court allowed banks to handle cryptocurrency transactions from exchanges and traders, overturning a central bank ban had that dealt the thriving industry a major blow.

Governments around the world have been looking into ways to regulate cryptocurrencies but no major economy has taken the drastic step of placing a blanket ban on owning them, even though concern has been raised about the misuse of consumer data and its possible impact on the financial system.

India’s proposed bill comes days after carmaker Tesla, led by US billionaire Elon Musk, announced a $1.5 billion investment in bitcoin and plans to accept the cryptocurrency from customers buying its electric vehicles, pushing the digital money to an all-time high.

The step was seen as the latest in the mainstreaming of the cryptocurrency whose value has risen by about 50 per cent this year, but sceptics say it is still highly volatile and regulators warn it is vulnerable to illicit use.

Source: www.ndtv.com


Mastercard to open up network to select cryptocurrencies

Mastercard to open up network to select cryptocurrencies

The credit-card giant’s announcement comes days after Elon Musk’s Tesla revealed it had purchased $1.5 billion of bitcoin and would soon accept it as a form of payment.

Mastercard already offers customers cards that allow people to transact using their cryptocurrencies, although without going through its network.

Mastercard said on Wednesday it was planning to offer support for some cryptocurrencies on its network this year, joining a string of big-ticket firms that have pledged similar support.

The credit-card giant’s announcement comes days after Elon Musk’s Tesla revealed it had purchased $1.5 billion of bitcoin and would soon accept it as a form of payment.

Asset manager BlackRock and payments companies Square and PayPal have also recently backed cryptocurrencies.

Mastercard already offers customers cards that allow people to transact using their cryptocurrencies, although without going through its network.

“Doing this work will create a lot more possibilities for shoppers and merchants, allowing them to transact in an entirely new form of payment. This change may open merchants up to new customers who are already flocking to digital assets,” Mastercard said.

Mastercard specified that not all cryptocurrencies will be supported on its network, adding that many of the hundreds of digital assets in circulation still need to tighten their compliance measures.

Many cryptocurrencies have struggled to win the trust of mainstream investors and the general public due to their speculative nature and potential for money laundering.

Source: www.naija247news.com

Author: Godwin Okafor


UN report: N. Korea used millions in stolen cryptocurrencies to support banned weapons programmes

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