Binance helped US authorities freeze $4.4M linked to North Korean cybercrime orgs
Following “lawfully served warrants,” Binance worked to flag the accounts and tie up the funds.
Crypto exchange Binance has revealed it “assisted US law enforcement” in seizing $4.4 million worth of crypto assets connected to North Korean cybercrime syndicates.
In a May 25 Twitter thread, Binance said that through its Binance Investigations team, it worked with law enforcement in the United States to hamper the “illicit revenue generation activities” of four now-sanctioned entities in North Korea.
“We proactively took action against accounts connected to these individuals over a year ago, in compliance with lawfully served warrants and in collaboration with law enforcement,” the firm stated.
We are proud to have assisted US law enforcement in seizing $4.4M and freezing accounts linked to North Korean organized crime.
Kudos to our law enforcement partners and the Binance Investigations team for their unwavering commitment to combating crime worldwide.
— Binance (@binance) May 24, 2023
Questioned whether the firm has more collaborative efforts in the works, a Binance spokesperson told Cointelegraph that the company is “continuously monitoring our platform for nefarious nation state actors and collaborating with law enforcement.”
A May 23 statement from the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced thait sanctioned four entities and one individual that had engaged in “malicious cyber activities that support the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Government.”
The four entities were the Chinyong Information Technology Cooperation Company, Pyongyang University of Automation, the 110th Research Center and the Technical Reconnaissance Bureau.
Chinyong is believed to maintain a “workforce of thousands of highly skilled IT workers around the world” who are tasked with generating “revenue that contributes to its unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs,” according to the Treasury.
These workers use fake or stolen identities to apply for overseas IT gigs, including tech and crypto-related jobs, and then launder the payments back to the DPRK via crypto exchanges.
One individual, Kim Sang Man (Kim), is also included in the OFAC sanctions and is “presumed to be involved in the payment of salaries to family members of Chinyong’s overseas DPRK worker delegations” and receiving $2 million in crypto for selling IT equipment to DPRK-affiliated teams in China and Russia.
Related: Japan leads world in losses from North Korean crypto hacking with 30% of total: Report
According to the Treasury Department, the Technical Reconnaissance Bureau “leads the DPRK’s development of offensive cyber tactics and tools and operates several departments, including those affiliated with the Lazarus Group.”
The Lazarus Group has raided several crypto/blockchain projects over recent years. It is believed to be responsible for the $620 million hack on Axie Infinity’s Ronin Bridge in March 2022.
The DPRK hacking group started to move their Axie Infinity stolen funds today. Part of it made to Binance, spread across over 86 accounts. $5.8M has been recovered. We done this many times for other projects in the past too. Stay #SAFU.
— CZ Binance (@cz_binance) April 22, 2022
Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao revealed in late April that the firm had recovered $5.8 million from the Lazarus Group after it spotted some of the ill-gotten gains moving across the exchange.
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