August 3, 2017 | Quoted by Alan Katz and Wenxin Fan - Bloomberg Markets
A Baccarat Binge Helped Launder the World’s Biggest Cyberheist
For someone supposed to be laundering millions of dollars in stolen funds, with investigators from three countries scrambling to track the money, Ding Zhize was a surprisingly unhurried man. He’d brought a dozen or so high rollers from China to play in the glitzy VIP room in MetroManila’s Solaire casino. The game was baccarat. It was late February 2016—still high season for Asian casinos, thanks to the Lunar New Year holiday—and Ding had been here for days. As red-shirted dealers laid down hand after hand, gamblers smoked Double Happiness cigarettes and helped themselves to an endless supply of mineral water, lemon tea, and Hennessy XO cognac. The chips they played in a steady stream were valid only in that room. The most valuable ones were rectangular plaques worth $20,000.
All but cut off from the world and hamstrung by sanctions imposed by the United Nations, the U.S., South Korea, and Japan, North Korea needs convertible currencies to finance imports, among other things. It uses a shifting array of agents, shipping companies, and brokers to bring in illicit cash, says Juan Zarate, a former deputy U.S. national security adviser and author of Treasury’s War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare.
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