‘N.Korean diplomats engaging in illicit financing activities’

North Korean Embassies and diplomatic personnel are engaging in illicit financing activities to fund the country’s nuclear and other destructive weapons activities, the media reported on Saturday citing a UK government report as saying.

The British Finance Ministry’s National Risk Assessment of Proliferation Financing (PF) report said its hosting of the North Korean Embassy in London “may pose an inherent” risk, as not all banks in the country may be attuned to UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions that restrict such activities, Yonhap News Agency reported.

“North Korean embassies and diplomatic staff have been known to engage in PF activities — generating revenue through extra-diplomatic means, identifying business opportunities for North Korean entities and helping them access the formal financial system (or move cash/goods in diplomatic bags) in violation of UNSC sanctions,” the report said.

Referring to the “significant risk” that comes with the presence of North Korean workers in a country, the report said “opportunities may exist” for those on student visas in Britain to generate revenue, though the European country does not host any North Korean workers.

The report also said North Korea is estimated to have stolen $316.4 million worth of virtual assets across the globe through cyber activities between 2019 and 2020, citing a recent UN report.

“(UNSC) restrictions are only effective if they are correctly implemented and enforced,” the report said, warning a weak implementation by both public and private sectors could lead to “further revenue raising to support North Korean proliferation.”