Binance Assists US Law Enforcement in Seizing $4.4M Linked to North Korean Organized Crime, Freezes Accounts

In the latest development in the fight against cybercrime, Binance, the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchange, has collaborated with US law enforcement to seize $4.4 million and freeze accounts connected to North Korean organized crime.

On Wednesday, May 24, Binance took to Twitter to express its fulfilment in its collaboration with US law enforcement agencies, highlighting the crucial role played by its investigations team in uncovering and taking action against North Korean criminal entities.

“We are proud to have assisted US law enforcement in seizing $4.4M and freezing accounts linked to North Korean organized crime,” the exchange wrote.

“We proactively took action against accounts connected to these individuals over a year ago, in compliance with lawfully served warrants and in collaboration with law enforcement,” it added.

Binance’s statement follows a Tuesday announcement by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) that it had sanctioned five entities involved in malicious cyber activities supporting the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

“The DPRK conducts malicious cyber activities and deploys information technology (IT), workers who fraudulently obtain employment to generate revenue, including in virtual currency, to support the Kim regime and its priorities, such as its unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs,” wrote OFAC.

As previously reported, the DPRK has been engaging in cyber activities worldwide, primarily aimed at stealing funds to support its illicit programs. According to the OFAC, the Pyongyang University of Automation, recognized as one of the DPRK’s top cyber training institutions, has been responsible for nurturing malicious cyber actors, many of whom operate under the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), the primary intelligence agency behind the DPRK’s cyber operations.

The RGB, a controlled entity of the North Korean government and previously sanctioned by OFAC, oversees the activities of several cybercriminal groups, including the Lazarus Group which is responsible for several significant cryptocurrency heists in 2022. In March 2023, a UN Panel of Experts revealed in a report that DPRK cyber actors stole a record amount of virtual currency in 2022, surpassing previous years.

That said, while this is not the first time Binance has collaborated with US law enforcement in combating cybercrime, the US government has remained tight-lipped on such claims, perhaps due to its restrained relationship with the exchange. In January and February, the exchange announced the freezing of more than $100 million linked to the Harmony One hack last year in collaboration with Huobi. 

Despite the lack of proper recognition, Binance reaffirmed its commitment to promoting a safe and secure environment for cryptocurrency transactions, noting that it will continue to “work closely with authorities around the world every day to help prevent crimes and take action against bad actors.”

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