The US Department of Justice has unsealed two federal indictments charging a North Korean Foreign Trade Bank representative and three over-the-counter traders for their roles in money laundering schemes using cryptocurrency. Crypto Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog
“The charges announced today highlight the ways in which North Korean operatives have innovated their approach to evading sanctions by exploiting the technological features of virtual assets to facilitate payments and profits, and targeting virtual currency companies for theft,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “We will continue to work to disrupt and deter North Korean actors and those who aid them by following the money on the blockchain and shining a light on their conduct.”
“The growing popularity of virtual currencies has provided new and unique opportunities for criminals to engage in illicit transactions, but what has not changed is our commitment to investigating these crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Wheeler. “I am proud of the work that the FBI and partners have accomplished in support of today's indictment.”
Since 2017, as part of its cyber campaign, North Korean hackers have executed virtual currency-related thefts to generate revenue for the regime, including through the hacking of virtual asset services providers, such as virtual currency exchanges. A portion of the proceeds from those virtual currency theft and fraud schemes was sent to virtual currency address 1G3Qj4Y4trA8S64zHFsaD5GtiSwX19qwFv, which Sim and his OTC trader coconspirators used to fund payments for goods for North Korea.
To generate revenue for the regime, North Korea also deploys IT workers to obtain illegal employment in the cryptocurrency industry. According to court documents, North Koreans apply for jobs in remote IT development work without disclosing that they are North Korean in order to circumvent sanctions. These IT workers bypass security and due diligence checks by using fake, or fraudulently obtained, identity documents and other obfuscation strategies to hide their true location from online payment facilitators and hiring platforms. The IT workers request payment for their services in virtual currency and then send their earnings back to North Korea via, among other methods, FTB representatives like Sim. DOJ Press Release