The U.S. Treasury Department is blacklisting 20 Bitcoin (BTC) addresses associated with a pair of Chinese nationals accused of laundering millions of dollars worth of stolen cryptocurrency.
The hackers are tied to Lazarus, a group of cyber thieves allegedly linked to North Korea and known for stealing digital assets from cryptocurrency exchanges.
According to the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Tian Yinyin and Li Jiadong controlled about $100 million in Bitcoin that was stolen back in 2018. They transferred the crypto among various addresses to try to hide the origin of the funds.
Investigators say the crypto laundering is part of a larger effort by North Korea to fund its weapons programs by illicit means.
“North Korea’s malicious cyber activity is a key revenue generator for the regime, from the theft of fiat currency at conventional financial institutions to cyber intrusions targeting cryptocurrency exchanges.
The August 2019 UN Security Council 1718 Committee Panel of Experts report estimates that North Korea had attempted to steal as much as $2 billion, of which $571 million is attributed to cryptocurrency theft. This revenue allows the North Korean regime to continue to invest in its illicit ballistic missile and nuclear programs.”
OFAC listed eight Bitcoin addresses tied to Tian Yinyin and 12 tied to Li Jiadong.
Millions of dollars in BTC have moved through the addresses in the past, although most of the addresses have been drained of all funds at time of publishing.