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This article was published on January 15, 2020

UN experts: Don’t go to North Korean crypto conference (duh)

I heart North Korea is really beautiful this time of year, shame we shouldn't go

UN experts: Don’t go to North Korean crypto conference (duh)
Matthew Beedham
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Matthew Beedham

Editor, SHIFT by TNW

Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls. Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls.

International sanctions experts from the United Nations are warning people not to attend a cryptocurrency conference in North Korea.

The conference, which is allegedly taking place in February, is being flagged as a potential sanctions violation, Reuters reports.

Experts have laid out their advice in a confidential report that is to be submitted to the UN Security Council later this month.

The UN has been keeping a close eye on the Asian nation and its use of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

In November last year, a UN report claimed that North Korea had laundered money through a shell company posing as a “shipping and logistics firm run on a blockchain platform.”

The UN has also been monitoring the Asian nation’s cryptocurrency-focused hacking exploits, which it says netted the country more than $2 billion. North korea has denied the UN’s claims.

Indeed, given the recent arrest of American Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith, the UN’s advice to avoid North Korea isn’t at all surprising.

Griffith is currently under investigation for allegedly travelling to North Korea to discuss how cryptocurrency could be used to evade sanctions. At the time of writing, he is posted on bail for $1 million.

North Korea’s conference mystery

North Korea first announced that it would be holding a cryptocurrency conference back in August 2018. The country allegedly planned for the event to take place two months later and last two days.

Very little information was shared, although it was said the conference would end with a meet and greet between the country’s industry leaders and experts.

An investigation by Hard Fork later found out that the event was postponed. And so far it remains unclear if the event actually ever happened, at all.

Despite lengthy correspondence with the event’s supposed organizers, just one inconclusive photograph was provided as evidence that the conference went ahead.

Supposed image of North Korea cryptocurrency conference (Image supplied by Cao de Benos)

A year later, news surfaced that the country was preparing to develop its own cryptocurrency in order to dodge strict international sanctions. Evidence of this was also sparse.

Whatever North Korea is doing with cryptocurrency and blockchain, I don’t think we need experts to tell us to steer clear.

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