Three members of the United States Senate have reportedly sent a letter to the White House and Treasury Department in an effort to crack down on North Korea using cryptocurrency to fund its nuclear program and evade sanctions.
According to an Aug. 4 report in the Wall Street Journal, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Tim Kaine and Chris Van Hollen requested the Biden administration provide information on how the U.S. government was working to address the illicit use of digital assets by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The letter cited reports claiming North Korean hackers have been behind the theft of more than $3 billion worth of crypto since 2018, funds being used to fund part of the country’s missile program.
“North Korea has methodically built its expertise in digital assets over the past few years,” the three senators reportedly wrote.
Multiple news agencies have reported hackers connected to North Korea were responsible for stealing billions of dollars in crypto, sometimes using mixers in an attempt to hide funds from authorities. The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control cited concerns over crypto being used to fund North Korea’s nuclear program in adding Tornado Cash to its list of sanctioned entities in November 2022.
Crypto payments platform @coinspaid suspects North Korea’s Lazarus Group is behind a $37.3 million exploit of its platform on July 22. While customer funds are safe, the firm’s balance sheet took a big hit. https://t.co/IssH0et2Gw
— Cointelegraph (@Cointelegraph) July 27, 2023
Senator Warren has been behind many efforts to crack down on the illicit use of cryptocurrencies, from suggesting a link between digital asset payments and companies based in China that provided precursors for the opioid fentanyl to proposing legislation for stricter Anti-Money Laundering requirements. In July, she was part of a bipartisan group of senators who pushed provisions against crypto mixers and privacy coins in the National Defense Authorization Act.