On January 15, 2020, United Nations sanctions experts released a statement warning crypto lovers not to attend the cryptocurrency conference in North Korea.
The experts have flagged the conference in question, the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference 2020, scheduled to kick off on February 22 as a likely sanctions violation.
U.N. officials claim that attending the conference could be seen as a sanctions violation and could have ramifications. This is following an August report that North Korea generated $2 billion for weapons programs using cyber-attacks on banks and crypto exchanges.
It should be remembered that North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Griffith is Proof that We Should Take this Announcement Seriously
The U.N. warning comes amidst news that an Ethereum developer was arrested after attending a cryptocurrency conference in North Korea. The developer, Virgil Griffith, was accused by U.S. authorities of assisting the North Korean regime with money laundering. He was later released on bail while awaiting his trial.
It would thus be wise to avoid the upcoming crypto conference in North Korea, especially for U.S. citizens seeing to evade a similar fate to that of Griffith.
That said, North Korea has been vehemently trying to attract U.S. attendees for the Pyongyang blockchain and cryptocurrency conference, claiming that American citizens are welcome, and passports will not be stamped for confidentiality purposes.
U.N. sanctions require nations to prevent the provision of “financial transactions, technical training, advice, services or assistance” if they believe it could be contributing to North Korea’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs.
Crypto Crimes Linked to North Korea
Without a doubt, as the sanctions screws tighten on North Korea, the state has looked to alternative ways to earn vital foreign currency, and one of those ways has been to engage in extensive cyber offensives against mostly Western targets.
The WannaCry ransomware attack that devastated hundreds of thousands of computers around the world has been the most notable attack in recent years, although there have been many others.
It now seems that the country has resulted in becoming a player in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sphere. In April last year, the rogue state held its first blockchain and cryptocurrency conference, with more than 80 organizations taking part.