Hiding in plain sight: Why Hong Kong is a preferred spot for North Korea’s money launderers

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October 17, 2017

Easey Commercial Building is an unassuming mid-rise office tower on Hennessy Road, an artery that runs through Hong Kong’s busy Wan Chai district. The structure sits among scenery that’s classic Hong Kong: bright lights, tall buildings, people rushing about.

But camouflaged in the normalcy is a business that seemingly exists in name only.
Take the elevator to the Easey building’s 21st floor, and in room 2103 is the registered office of Unaforte Limited Hong Kong. It’s a company accused by the United Nations of violating sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea’s official name) for helping the country make money internationally, funding everything from its nuclear weapons program to the lavish lifestyles of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and Pyongyang’s most important players.