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U.S. senators voice concern over possible use of cryptocurrency by N. Korea to evade sanctions

10:20 March 04, 2022

SEOUL, March 4 (Yonhap) -- A group of U.S. senators has expressed concerns over the possibility of such "adversaries" as North Korea and Russia using cryptocurrency to evade international sanctions and urged relevant authorities to ensure strong enforcement of sanctions compliance in the cryptocurrency industry.

In a joint letter sent to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday (Washington time) amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, four senators -- Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Jack Reed (D-RI) -- pointed out that "rogue states" and other actors could use digital currency to conceal cross-border transactions for "nefarious purposes."

"Given the need to ensure the efficacy and integrity of our sanctions program against Russia and other adversaries, we are seeking information on the steps Treasury is taking to enforce sanctions compliance by the cryptocurrency industry," it read. "Strong enforcement of sanctions compliance in the cryptocurrency industry is critical given that digital assets, which allow entities to bypass the traditional financial system, may increasingly be used as a tool for sanctions evasion."

The letter cited a U.N. report last month that North Korea used stolen cryptocurrency possibly worth as much as US$400 million to fund its nuclear and ballistic missile program.

This file graphic image, provided by Yonhap News TV, shows the flag of North Korea and an image of Bitcoin. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)



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