US DOJ charges North Korean bank official charged in 2 crypto laundering conspiracies
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has unveiled indictments against North Korean bank officials for two cryptocurrency-related crimes. April 24th.
Defendant was involved in two criminal schemes
The DOJ said that Sim Hyon Sop, head of North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank, was involved in two cryptocurrency money laundering conspiracies.
Shim allegedly conspired with three over-the-counter (OTC) crypto traders to launder stolen exchange funds to use them for goods destined for North Korea.
Two foreigners, Wu Huihu and Cheng Hung Man, were named as co-conspirators. Wu was indicted on separate charges and all three were arrested. U.S. Treasury designationAnother individual is known only by the pseudonym “Jamie Chen”.
Separately, Sim allegedly colluded with North Korean IT workers in laundering proceeds earned through illegal employment at US blockchain companies. Workers working under false identities demanded payment in cryptocurrencies such as Tether (USDT) and He USD Coin (USDC). Those funds were directed to North Korea.
The DOJ said complicity in laundering financial instruments is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and operating an unlicensed money transfer business is punishable by five years in prison. The former applies seemingly to Sims, the latter to Wu.
US sanctions broadly target North Korea
DOJ official Kenneth A. Polite described Sim’s effort as a “revolutionary attempt” to circumvent US sanctions against North Korea. These sanctions are aimed at preventing countries from developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
DOJ also admitted to various other North Korean illegal activities related to cryptocurrencies, notably those carried out by the state-backed hacking group Lazarus. Lazarus Group was involved in two high-profile blockchain attacks in 2022, against Horizon Bridge and Ronin Bridge. I also use a coin mixer a lot.
The DOJ has not directly suggested that Sim and his co-conspirators were members of Lazarus or related groups, but Treasury Department statements suggest Wu was handling Lazarus funds.
A post by the U.S. Department of Justice prosecuting a North Korean bank employee charged with two crypto-laundering conspiracies first appeared on CryptoSlate.