Binance, one of the leading cryptocurrency exchanges, has announced its collaboration with US law enforcement agencies in seizing approximately $4.4 million worth of crypto assets connected to North Korean cybercrime syndicates.
In a Twitter thread posted on May 25, the exchange revealed that its Binance Investigations team had actively worked with law enforcement officials to disrupt the “illicit revenue generation activities” of four entities subsequently sanctioned by the US Department of the Treasury.
According to Binance, it took proactive measures against accounts linked to these individuals over a year ago in compliance with lawfully served warrants and close cooperation with law enforcement authorities.
A Binance spokesperson also emphasized the company’s continuous efforts to monitor its platform for suspicious activities involving nation-state actors and its commitment to collaborating with law enforcement agencies.
The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued a statement on May 23, announcing sanctions against four entities and one individual supporting the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Government through malicious cyber activities.
The sanctioned entities include the Chinyong Information Technology Cooperation Company, Pyongyang University of Automation, the 110th Research Center, and the Technical Reconnaissance Bureau.
The Chinyong Information Technology Cooperation Company is believed to employ a large workforce of highly skilled IT professionals worldwide. Their primary objective is to generate revenue contributing to the DPRK’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile programs.
These individuals often assume fake or stolen identities to secure overseas IT jobs, including roles in the technology and cryptocurrency sectors. They then launder the payments received back to North Korea through crypto exchanges.
The sanctions also target an individual named Kim Sang Man, who is allegedly involved in distributing salaries to family members of Chinyong’s overseas worker delegations. Kim is suspected of receiving $2 million in cryptocurrencies for selling IT equipment to DPRK-affiliated teams in China and Russia.
The Technical Reconnaissance Bureau, highlighted by the Treasury Department, leads the DPRK’s development of offensive cyber tactics and tools and operates various departments, including those connected to the notorious Lazarus Group.
The Lazarus Group has been responsible for several high-profile cyberattacks on blockchain and cryptocurrency projects in recent years. Notably, it orchestrated the $620 million hack on the Ronin Bridge of Axie Infinity in March 2022.
Binance’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao, previously revealed that the exchange had managed to recover $5.8 million from the Lazarus Group after identifying suspicious transactions associated with the stolen funds.
Binance’s collaboration with US law enforcement agencies and its proactive approach to combatting illicit activities within the crypto space demonstrates the exchange’s commitment to promoting a secure and compliant ecosystem.
Seizing the crypto assets associated with North Korean cybercrime syndicates represents a significant step in disrupting their revenue streams and preventing further malicious activities.