Crypto Heists: North Korea Launders $147 Million in Stolen Cryptocurrency in March

By Jace Dela Cruz

May 15, 2024 08:11 AM EDT

North Korea reportedly laundered $147.5 million via the virtual currency platform Tornado Cash in March after allegedly stealing it from a cryptocurrency exchange in 2023. 

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UN Claims North Korea Laundered $147.5 Million in Stolen Crypto

According to an exclusive report by Reuters, the United Nations sanctions monitors told a UN Security Council sanctions committee in a document handed late last week that they had been probing 97 suspected North Korean cyberattacks on cryptocurrency firms between 2017 and 2024, worth around $3.6 billion that was reportedly being utilized to help fund the country's development of weapons of mass destruction.

Citing details from crypto analytics company PeckShield and blockchain research firm Elliptic, the monitors told the committee one of these attacks stole $147.5 million from the HTX cryptocurrency exchange late last year before being laundered last March.

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UN Monitors Crypto Thefts Worth $54.7 Million

This year alone, the monitors said they investigated 11 cryptocurrency thefts worth $54.7 million. They noted that many of these may have been operated by North Korean IT workers inadvertently employed by small crypto companies.

Citing reports of UN member states and private companies, the monitors noted that North Korean IT workers operating abroad generate massive income for the country.

North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006, and these measures were further strengthened over the years to curtail funding for its controversial ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

According to Reuters, Tornado Cash was sanctioned by the US in 2022 over allegations of providing support or assistance to North Korea. Last year, two of its co-founders were charged with facilitating over $1 billion in money laundering, including for a cybercrime group tied to North Korea.

READ MORE: North Korea Junks All Economic Cooperation Deals With South Korea as Kim Jong Un Claims Legal Right to Destroy South

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