Crypto exchange Binance has revealed that it assisted US law enforcement in seizing $4.4 million worth of crypto assets connected to North Korean cybercrime syndicates.
The announcement was made in a May 25 Twitter thread, in which Binance said that it had worked with law enforcement in the United States to hamper the “illicit revenue generation activities” of four now-sanctioned entities in North Korea.
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.
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.
Binance’s announcement comes as the crypto industry is increasingly under scrutiny from governments around the world. In recent months, several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan, have issued regulations aimed at preventing the use of crypto for illicit activities.
Binance’s cooperation with US law enforcement is a positive step in the fight against crypto crime. The exchange’s willingness to share information with law enforcement will help to deter criminals from using crypto for illegal activities.