The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged a North Korean bank representative with two cryptocurrency-related crimes.
The DOJ unsealed charges on Monday of this week claiming that Sim Hyon Sop from North Korean Foreign Trade Bank was involved in two cryptocurrency-driven money laundering conspiracies.
The first of these was with three traders who together entered into a conspiracy to launder theft of over $1.5m from a cryptocurrency exchange.\
The second involved the illegal transfer of cryptocurrency revenue amounting to over $100,000 obtained from blockchain start-ups based in the US which were generated through fake employment practises.
Both Wu Huihu and Cheng Hung Man are also alleged to have been involved in the illegal activities and were designated by the US Treasury. Another individual named “Jammy Chen” was involved in the conspiracies, but has not been identified beyond the alleged pseudonym.
The individuals are accused of agreeing to transfer funds to be spent on North Korean weaponry smuggled to other parts of the world, exerting pressure on the US administration to maintain sanctions against the country aimed at avoiding proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) worldwide.
The two named induvuduals face separate charges: the former for conspiring to launder monetary instruments (with a maximum 20-year prison sentence attached) while the latter for purportedly violating a governing law regarding unlicensed money transmitting businesses. Sim is a North Korean sanctions entity for money laundering inherently implicating North Korea.
Whilst it’s not suggested Sim and his co-conspirators are related to or members of the so-called Lazarus Group, the team sanctioned as responsible for the high profile 2022 attacks against blockchain platforms Ronin Bridge and Horizon Bridge, statements from the Treasury appeared to confirm Wu’s apparent management of greater Lazarus funds against the government’s restrictive policy.
[h/t Mike Dalton]