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North Korea Fingered in Cryptocurrency Theft, South Korea Prepares to Fight Surge in Cryptocurrency Crimes


North Korea has been fingered by the United Nations for using blockchain technology and cybertheft to evade economic sanctions and illegally obtain the much-needed foreign currency. This comes at a time when its neighbor and rival, South Korea, has launched a new task force to deal with the increase in cryptocurrency related crimes. The NEM Foundation has been saved from collapse after receiving an $8 million injection boost.

Japanese crypto industry trade group JCBA drafts ICO regulation guidelines

The Japan Cryptocurrency Business Association (JCBA), a crypto industry trade group issued recommendations on initial coin offerings (ICOs) regulation in a bid to promote local blockchain and cryptocurrency industry.

The new recommendations focus on the expansion of the cryptocurrency industry in the country as well as the definitions of and regulations of both utility and security tokens.

The recommendation proposes to differentiate between utility and security tokens and would result in the latter being subject to the Financial Commodity Exchange Act.

The JCBA started drafting the recommendations last year and the documented is intended for the country’s financial watchdog, the Financial Services Agency (FSA) and crypto-related businesses.

“Based on the discussions at the discussion group [ICO Review Group], this document makes recommendations on what ICO regulations should be,” reads what JCBA’s ICO Review Group wrote in a press statement.

Samsung confirms a partnership with digital wallet Enjin

South Korea’s multinational conglomerate Samsung has confirmed the rumors that it has partnered with the digital wallet service provider and gaming platform Enjin.

The partnership is for wallet services for Samsung’s newly availed Galaxy S10 smartphone and other features.

It was earlier reported that Enjin Coin will be used for Samsung’s games and services through its dedicated Samsung Galaxy Store.

Currently, Samsung’s S10 crypto wallet will only be available to users in the U.S., Canada, and South Korea.

Enjin is a technology company based in Singapore and focuses mainly on blockchain games and service development.

Police report: Japanese citizens lose ¥67.7 billion ($610 million) in cryptocurrency in cybercrimes in 2018

A report published by the Japanese National Police indicates that the country’s citizens lost ¥67.7 billion ($610 million) in cryptocurrency due to hacks and thefts in 2018.

While this figure is huge, it should be noted that a large portion of it was lost in one hack. In January last year, cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck confirmed that hackers had made off with ¥58 billion ($500 million) in NEM currency siphoned off from the wallets of 260,000 users.

The exchange was acquired by Monex Group a few months later and managed to compensate the affected users. By the end of the year, the exchange had received an exchange license from the country’s authorities.

What is even more staggering is that hackers carried out 169 attacks on the country’s residents with a substantial amount of money held in the form of digital assets. However, none of the perpetrators were brought to book and this should be worrying for investors and traders.

The report further indicated that 20.8 percent of the attacks targeting individuals and companies but not specifically crypto firms came from Russia. 14.1 percent of the attacks came from China and another 12.6 percent originated from the United States.

Japan: unregistered cryptocurrency brokerage firm pays back tax

An unregistered cryptocurrency brokerage firm operating in Japan’s capital city of Tokyo has reportedly concealed income of up to 200 million Yen ($1.8 million), reported NHK on March 8.

The firm conducts its business by converting virtual currencies into cash on behalf of clients and earns commission by transacting on licensed virtual exchanges.

The brokerage firm did not declare revenue of nearly $2.25 million to the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau for the year ending May 2018. The firm is believed to deal with cryptocurrencies worth millions on an annual basis. The firm has revised its declaration with the tax agency and paid an extra $900,000 in taxes.

Japan’s taxman believes that individual investors and traders may be utilizing the unregistered brokerage firm in order to evade paying taxes on profits obtained from virtual currency trading.

South Korea unveils a new task force to combat an 800 percent increase in crypto-related crimes

South Korea has had enough of the escalating crypto-related criminal activities. In response, the country has launched a new task force aimed at dealing with cryptocurrency fraud and other fintech crimes.

The new tasks force is a direct response to the 800-percent increase in the cryptocurrency crimes that have troubled the nation over the last couple of years.

South Korea reported 53 similar crimes in 2016 before the number rose to 453 in 2017 and climbed to 4,591 in 2018.

The new task force has been given the authority to track accounts of those suspected of holding illicit funds in digital assets although it has not given a detailed breakdown of how it plans to achieve this. It will likely be a kept a secret so as not to alert those suspected of wrongdoing.

The task force will work in collaboration with other relevant government bodies such as those that can freeze accounts or pursue legal actions against the suspects.

Special task forces specializing in cryptocurrency crimes are expected to be launched as cryptocurrencies and crimes related to them become a commonplace. However, despite the growing number of cryptocurrency-related crimes, they still remain small compared with other financial crimes.

UN Panel: North Korea stocking foreign currency and evading sanctions through cryptocurrency theft

North Korea, a self-styled socialist state in East Asia is believed to be evading economic sanctions and acquiring foreign currency through back door means that include cybertheft and using untraceable blockchain technology, says experts who report to the United Nations’ (UN) Security Council.

The experts have reason to believe that the rogue nation has obtained approximately $670 million in foreign and virtual currency through cybertheft. The country further relied on blockchain technology to cover its tracks, said the panel that briefed Security Council’s North Korea Sanctions committee.

This is the first time that the panel has specifically pointed out how the socialist state uses cyber-attacks to obtain foreign currency.

North Korea had economic sanctions imposed on it over its nuclear technology and missile program.

The South Korean government has previously accused the North Korean government of being involved in the hacking of the former’s e-commerce site and the subsequent demand for $2.7 million as ransom payment for the data stolen in the hack.

NEM Foundation breathes new life after $8 million rescue package

Singapore-based NEM Foundation is mapping out new survival plans after it got an $8 million lifeline package. The organization will lay off a large number of its staff in an attempt to cut back on expenses and ensure long-term survival.

Going back in time, NEM Foundation announced in January that it is in a very bad financial state and needs urgent funding in order to keep its doors open.

The foundation’s request of 210 million XEM (the native token of the NEM blockchain) from reserves was granted by key members in the community. The NEM Foundation published a blog post on March 8 detailing how it plans to use the first batch of 25 million XEM (nearly $1.05 million).

In an interview with CoinDesk, NEM Foundation president Alexandra Tinsman said,

“I think this is a vote of confidence that the industry is moving forward and that we’re ready to pivot to a very new way of working.”

Launched in 2015, NEM is a blockchain protocol that allows several ledgers to co-exist on a single blockchain.

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