North Korea stole $2bn (£1.64bn) from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges to fund its nuclear weapons programme.
According to a new leaked United Nations report, seen and cited by a range of prestigious media outlets, including Bloomberg, North Korea has about “30 overseas representatives controlling bank accounts and facilitating transactions, including for illicit transfers of coal and petroleum.”
The UN’s Security Council also said in that report: “Ongoing deficiencies in Member States implementation of financial sanctions combined with DPRK’s [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] deceptive practices enabled the country to continue to access the international financial system.
“Large scale attacks against cryptocurrency exchanges allow the DPRK to generate income in ways that are harder to trace and subject to less government oversight and regulation than the traditional banking sector.”
The UN Security Council publishes a report twice a year to a UN committee which is in charge of enforcing sanctions on North Korea.
The hermit kingdom led by Kim Jong Un has been slapped with three rounds of sanctions, which includes bans on exports on everything from seafood to iron and coal. The sanctions followed Pyongyang’s prolific range of missile launches and nuclear weapons tests in 2017.
Last week, Britain, Germany, and France asked the UN Security Council “to meet behind closed doors” on North Korea after the nation fired two short-range ballistic missiles early on Wednesday.
At the time, US president Donald Trump warned that the missile tests broke UN rules.
Meanwhile, North Korea through its official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said it never agreed to any UN resolutions and that it was “compelled to develop, test and deploy the powerful physical means essential for national defence” after South Korea and the US engaged in joint military exercises.
At a press conference, a UN spokesperson said that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres believed the missile launches were “just another reminder of the importance of restarting talks on the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.”