Crypto exchange Binance has announced its collaboration with US law enforcement, seizing $4.4 million worth of crypto assets linked to cybercrime organizations operating in North Korea.
In a series of tweet on May 25, Binance disclosed that its team of investigators was actively working with US authorities to disrupt the illicit revenue-generating activities of four now-sanctioned entities based in North Korea.
The coordinated efforts were undertaken pursuant to legally issued warrants and in close cooperation with law enforcement, according to Binance.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) had previously declared sanctions against four entities and one individual involved in malicious cyber activities supporting the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
The entities targeted by the sanctions were the Chinyong Information Technology Cooperation Company, the Pyongyang Automation University, the 110th Research Center and the Technical Recognition Bureau.
The Chinyong company is known to employ thousands of highly skilled IT professionals around the world, allegedly involved in generating revenue to support illegal weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile programs.
Workers are believed to be using fake or stolen identities to secure IT positions overseas, including roles in the tech and cryptocurrency sectors. Payments received for their work are then sent back to North Korea through crypto exchanges.
The OFAC sanctions also targeted an individual named Kim Sang Man, who is suspected of being involved in paying the salaries of family members of Chinyong’s overseas worker delegations. Kim also reportedly received $2 million worth of cryptocurrency by selling computer equipment to DPRK-affiliated teams in China and Russia.
The Technical Reconnaissance Bureau, another sanctioned entity, is recognized as a key driver of the DPRK’s offensive cyber tactics and tools. He oversees various departments, including those associated with the Lazarus Group.
The notorious Lazarus Group has been involved in numerous cyberattacks on cryptocurrency and blockchain projects in recent years. He was responsible for the $620 million hack on Axie Infinity’s Ronin Bridge in March 2022.
Binance’s involvement in the fight against cybercrime extends beyond this recent operation. In late April, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao revealed that the exchange had successfully recovered $5.8 million from the Lazarus Group after identifying suspicious transactions involving ill-gotten funds.