Crypto exchanges Binance and Huobi have frozen cryptocurrencies worth approximately $1.4 million linked to North Korea, according to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic. The firm noted that the stolen funds, which were dormant until recently, originated from the June 2022 hack of Harmony’s Horizon Bridge.

North Korea-Linked Crypto Frozen by Binance and Huobi

Blockchain analytics firm Elliptic said Tuesday that it has collaborated with cryptocurrency exchanges Binance and Huobi “to freeze Lazarus Group hack proceeds.” Elliptic wrote:

Crypto exchanges Binance and Huobi today froze accounts containing approximately $1.4 million in cryptoassets originating from the June 2022 hack of Harmony’s Horizon Bridge.

“The Horizon cross-chain bridge was attacked on June 24th 2022, resulting in the loss of $99.6 million in cryptoassets. These funds were then laundered through the now-sanctioned Tornado Cash,” the blockchain analytics firm detailed. Ethereum mixer Tornado Cash was banned last August by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC).

The Horizon Bridge hacker sent over 98% of the $100 million in stolen crypto assets into the Tornado Cash mixer, Elliptic said in June last year. The stolen crypto assets included ether (ETH), tether (USDT), wrapped bitcoin (WBTC), and Binance coin (BNB), the firm noted, adding that the hacker immediately used Uniswap to convert the Ethereum-based assets into 85,837 ETH.

Elliptic investigators traced the funds’ complete trail through the mixer, and attributed the hack to the Lazarus Group, a North Korea-controlled cybercrime organization. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) later confirmed Lazarus Group’s involvement in the hack. Elliptic continued:

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

Elliptic CEO Simone Maini commented:

Today, money laundering was detected 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 becoming a haven for money launderers and sanctions evaders, and ensure that they are a force for good,” the CEO added.

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Kevin Helms

A student of Austrian Economics, Kevin found Bitcoin in 2011 and has been an evangelist ever since. His interests lie in Bitcoin security, open-source systems, network effects and the intersection between economics and cryptography.

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