Chinese Nationals Charged With $ 100 Million Crypto Money Laundering

Two Chinese nationals have been charged and placed under sanctions after being accused by the US government of helping launder more than $ 100 million in cryptocurrency funds stolen by North Korean hackers.

Tian Yinyin and Li Jiadong have been charged with conspiracy to launder money and operate an unlicensed money transfer business, although they are unlikely to stand trial in the United States.

Between December 2017 and April 2019, they are accused of laundering more than $ 100 million in virtual currency stolen from stock exchanges and elsewhere by the notorious state-backed Lazarus group of Pyongyang.

One such hack was a massive theft of $ 250 million from an unnamed exchange in 2018, while another involved the theft of $ 48.5 million in virtual currency from a South Korean exchange in November 2019. .

In the case of the $ 250 million theft, Tian transferred $ 34 million of the $ 91 million transferred to the duo to a Chinese bank account and transferred $ 1.4 million to iTunes gift cards, according to the states. -United. Treasury.

It is also claimed that their North Korean co-conspirators circumvented know-your-customer checks on the virtual currency exchange by submitting forged photographs and identification documents. A total of 113 virtual currency accounts and addresses were reportedly used to launder funds.

Although they are unlikely to be brought to justice, the Treasury has imposed sanctions on them which mean that all of their “property and interests in property” that may be in the United States or under the control of American nationals “Must be blocked and reported to the Foreign Assets Control Office.

North Korea has long targeted cryptocurrency exchanges as a way to bypass U.S. sanctions to fill the coffers of the Kim Jong-un regime. A 2019 UN report claimed that state-backed hackers managed to raise up to $ 2 billion by targeting them and mainstream banks with malware.

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