Cryptocurrencies have liberated many people who were oppressed by conglomerates, both in the internet and financial worlds. And now, it turns out that they are also liberating nations as well. According to two financial intelligence analysts, North Korea is using cryptos to evade U.S sanctions. The nation, which has had a rocky relationship with the U.S has been trading in the established cryptos such as Bitcoin and Ether and also creating its own. The experts further revealed that the country is using mixers and tumblers which obscure the origin of a token, making it near impossible to trace the activities to North Korea.
Forget The Dollar, There’s Bitcoin Now
The US has for a long time used economic sanctions to have its way in the international realm. Once sanctions are imposed against a country, the economy almost always comes tumbling down as the country lacks access to the U.S dollar which is the default currency for international trade. However, this is changing quickly with nations such as Iran, Venezuela and even Russia turning to Bitcoin to evade these sanctions. And now, North Korea has joined the party.
According to two financial experts based in Washington D.C, the Kim Jong-un-led country has been enhancing its crypto network as it dissociates itself with the U.S. The two, Lourdes Miranda who is a financial crimes investigator and analyst and Ross Delton who is an anti-money laundering expert, believe that North Korea has been conducting the exercise for a long time and has been using advanced methods to ensure anonymity.
In a joint statement, the two explained:
“They [North Korea] can do so by using multiple international exchangers, mixing and shifting services – mirroring the money laundering cycle – to exploit international financial institutions that have correspondent banking relationships with the United States
The country is also using the underpinning blockchain technology for communications as it can obscure the specific locations of the users, the two experts continued. To make it even more difficult to trace the transactions back to the country, North Korea has resulted to creating its own cryptocurrencies, complete with a ledger that, unlike Bitcoin’s, can be manipulated and changed. The manipulation could give those who inspect the ledger the illusion that the transactions emanate from legitimate and non-adversarial sources.
So, if North Korea (known internationally as the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea – DPRK) is using Bitcoin, how does it get access to international markets? The experts explained:
“DPRK could open an online wallet using a Russia-based service, transfer its crypto-currency into a Bulgaria-based wallet service and then transfer it again into a Greece-based wallet service, all through anonymous communication and using their own blockchain.
North Korea is not the only US adversary that has turned to cryptos to evade sanctions. Iran hit the headlines recently after it emerged that the country is full-on using crypto to access international markets, with the Iranian government even developing its own crypto. Venezuela’s national crypto, the Petro dollar was also developed in response to U.S sanctions that had threatened to cripple the country’s economy.
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