Note: This op-ed originally appeared in Just Security and was written by Megha Swamy, Deputy Director of Illicit Finance Policy at The Sentry.
Two North Koreans abroad walk into a bank, open an account with access to U.S. dollars and euros, and go about conducting business with high-level politicians in their host country. Despite hundreds of sanctions actions against North Korea over the years, with numerous banks, businesses, ships, and individuals designated for supporting the country’s nuclear weapons program, this maneuver just two years ago to gain access to the international financial system was relatively easy.
How did this happen? For one, North Korean agents seem to have an ever-evolving ability to come up with sanctions-busting tactics, as reported by the United Nation’s own Panel of Experts and several civil society organizations like the Royal United Services Institute. These tactics are significantly easier to deploy in the weak regulatory and compliance environment in parts of sub-Saharan Africa…
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