Two Chinese citizens are sanctioned for washing stolen cryptocurrencies for the Lazarus Group
The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Department of the Treasury (OFAC) has sanctioned two Chinese citizens for washing stolen cryptocurrencies for a suspected group of North Korean-funded hackers called Lazarus Group.
The United States Department of the Treasury made the announcement in a release Press release published on March 2. According to the Treasury, two Chinese citizens called Tian Yinyin (Tian) and Li Jiadong helped the Lazarus Group wash the stolen cryptocurrency from a 2018 cyber intrusion against a cryptocurrency exchange.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is always accused of financing a group of cyber criminals called the Lazarus Group. In April 2018, an unconsciously affected cryptocurrency exchange employee downloaded the malware attributed to the DPRK through an email that gave hackers access to confidential information, such as personal information and private customer keys used to access virtual currency wallets stored on exchange servers.
With the help of these keys, hackers were able to steal Bitcoins worth 250 million dollars at that time, representing almost half of the estimated virtual currency thefts of the DPRK that year.
According to the details, Tian and Li received approximately $ 91 million in 2018 from accounts controlled by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). The revenues were formed by an attack mentioned above in an unnamed cryptocurrency exchange. They received over 9.5 million dollars from a hack from another exchange. Then, both people transferred the funds between the addresses they had and the accounts in China.
The Treasury Department wrote:
“Tian finally moved the equivalent of more than $ 34 million of these illicit funds through a new bank account linked to its exchange account. Tian also transferred almost 1.4 million dollars in Bitcoin to Apple iTunes prepaid gift cards, which in certain exchanges can be used for the purchase of additional Bitcoin ».
All money transfer companies have a legal obligation to register with the Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN), but Tian and Li appear to have operated as a money transfer company without a license. The Treasury OFAC has designated both people «For having attended, sponsored or provided financial, material or technological material support, or goods or services to, or in support of, the Lazarus Group».
OFAC's actions are coordinated with the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service and the United States District Court for the District of Columbia which, according to a judicial document published by Seamus Hughes, has already convened a grand jury to issue formal charges on both Chinese individuals.