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US Indicts Two Chinese Nationals For Laundering Cryptocurrency Allegedly Stolen In North Korean Hack

Two Chinese nationals have been indicted in the District of Columbia on two counts related to operating a money laundering business, the United States Department of Justice announced Monday.

Benzinga · 03/03/2020 11:13

Two Chinese nationals have been indicted in the District of Columbia on two counts related to operating a money laundering business, the United States Department of Justice announced Monday.

What Happened

The individuals, Tian Yinyin and Li Jiadong, helped convert the cryptocurrency stolen by North Korean hackers in a $250 million alleged exchange desk hack, according to the Justice Department.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control has also sanctioned the two individuals, it said in a separate announcement on Monday.

The accused laundered over $100 million for the North Korean hackers between December 2017 and April 2019, the authorities have alleged. Among other ways, the accused transferred about $1.4 billion worth of Bitcoin (BTC) to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) gift cards for iTunes, per the Treasury Department.

Why It Matters

The authorities noted that the actions of the Chinese nations put the "security and integrity of the global financial systems at risk" as the cryptocurrency in the hand of North Korea poses a particular threat.

"North Korea continues to attack the growing worldwide ecosystem of virtual currency as a means to bypass the sanctions imposed on it by the United States and the United Nations Security Council," Don Fort, chief of the criminal investigation branch of the Internal Revenue Service, said in a statement.

The Treasury Department noted that the North Korean hackers were said to have attempted to steal as much as $2 billion, according to the United Nations Security Council report. Out of this, $571 million is attributed to theft in cryptocurrencies. "This revenue allows the North Korean regime to continue to invest in its illicit ballistic missile and nuclear programs."

The U.S. government in January indicted an Ethereum developer Virgin Griffith for allegedly sharing his expertise on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology with the North Korean government.

The Justice Department also charged four Chinese military officials in February for their role in the Equifax Inc. (NYSE: EFX) data breach of 2017.

Price Action

Bitcoin (BTC) traded 1.58% higher at $8,794.16 at press time on Tuesday. Other cryptocurrencies, similarly, extended gains, with the exception of Tezos (XTZ), which traded 0.46% lower at $2.71.