Binance and Huobi Freeze $1.4 Million in Crypto Linked to North Korea

Cryptocurrency exchanges Binance and Huobi have froze about $1.4 million worth of cryptocurrencies linked to North Korea, according to analytics firm Elliptic. The firm noted that the stolen funds, which had been dormant until recently, originated from the Harmony’s Horizon Bridge hack in June 2022.

North Korea-linked cryptocurrency frozen by Binance and Huobi

On Tuesday, analytics firm Elliptic said it had partnered with cryptocurrency exchanges Binance and Huobi “to freeze the proceeds of the Lazarus Group hack.” Elliptic writes:

Cryptocurrency exchanges Binance and Huobi today froze accounts containing approximately $1.4 million in crypto assets stemming from the Harmony’s Horizon Bridge hack in June 2022.

“The Horizon cross-chain bridge was attacked on June 24, 2022, resulting in the loss of $99.6 million worth of crypto assets. Those funds were then laundered through the now-sanctioned Tornado Cash,” the blockchain analytics firm said. The Ethereum Tornado Cash mixer was banned last August by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

As Elliptic said last June, the Horizon Bridge hacker sent more than 98% of $100 million worth of stolen crypto assets to the Tornado Cash mixer. The stolen crypto assets included ether (Ethereum), tether (USDT), Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC) and Binance Coin (BNB), the firm noted, adding that the hacker immediately used Uniswap to convert Ethereum-based assets into 85,837 Ethereum.

Elliptic investigators traced the funds all the way through the mixer and attributed the hack to the Lazarus Group, a North Korean-controlled cybercriminal organization. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) later confirmed the involvement of the Lazarus Group in the hack. Elliptic continued:

The stolen funds remained dormant until recently, when our investigators began to see them channeled through complex transaction chains to exchanges.

Elliptic CEO Simone Maini commented:

Money laundering was discovered today and stolen funds linked to North Korea were frozen in real time.

“As an industry, we have the power and responsibility to prevent digital assets from becoming a safe haven for money launderers and sanctions evaders, and to ensure that they are a force for good,” the CEO added.

What do you think about the Binance and Huobi freezing of crypto assets associated with North Korea? Let us know in the comments below.

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