US Sanctions Two Chinese Nationals in Connection to North Korean Hacker Group

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has sanctioned two Chinese nationals for allegedly laundering cryptocurrency tied to a 2018 hack, The Block reports.

Tian Yinyin and Li Jiadong purportedly laundered millions of crypto stolen by the Lazarus Group, a hacker group with ties to the North Korean government.

Here’s more from the OFAC:

“Tian and Li received from DPRK-controlled accounts approximately $91 million stolen in an April 2018 hack of a cryptocurrency exchange (referred to hereinafter as ‘the exchange’), as well as an additional $9.5 million from a hack of another exchange. Tian and Li transferred the currency among addresses they held, obfuscating the origin of the funds.”

The OFAC says that Tian “ultimately moved the equivalent of more than $34 million of these illicit funds through a newly added bank account linked to his exchange account,” adding that he also transferred about $1.4 million worth of bitcoin into prepaid Apple iTunes cards, “which at certain exchanges can be used for the purchase of additional Bitcoin.”

North Korean hacker groups have allegedly stolen about $2 billion from cryptocurrency exchanges – enough to partially fund the hermit state’s nuclear program.

The April 2018 hack resulted in the theft of $250 million worth of crypto, which the OFAC says accounts “for nearly half of the DPRK’s estimated virtual currency heists that year.”

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