South Korea, Japan, US Security Advisors Seeks to Address North Korean Crypto Thefts

The rise of hacking activities linked to North Korean illicit groups has attracted the attention of global regulators to safeguard crypto investors from losses. In an advanced report, the national security officials from South Korean, the United States, and Japan held a closed-door meeting to discuss strategies to suppress the activities of the North Korean illicit groups.

National Security Advisors Steps Up to Combat North Korea Cyber Threats

 The main agenda of the meeting revolved around the North Korean-linked crypto thefts that have exposed many to the loss of substantial funds. Additionally, the official briefed on the progress of ongoing ballistic missile programs.

The meeting was held on Friday, December 8, in Seoul, South Korea. The participants also discussed pressing matters concerning the operation Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the progress of the weapons of mass destruction program.

At the meeting, Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor in the US, engaged in a serious discussion with Cho Tae-Yong, the national security advisor in the Republic of Korea, and Japanese national security advisor Takeo Akiba on ways to protect national security.

The official revisited the progress of trilateral programs between the three countries. Firstly, experts on national security reviewed the proposed commitment to consult on regional crises that involved sharing ballistic missile and defense data.

The officials also discuss the progress of the collaborations to react to the DPRK’s unlawful use of crypto to finance the development of weapons of mass destruction programs.

Rise of North Korean Linked Crypto Theft

Besides reviewing the progress of trilateral initiatives, the members present examined the relationship between Russia and North Korea.

Recent research demonstrated the North Korean illicit group stole millions of crypto to finance their nuclear weapon programs. The TRM Labs observed that as of August 18, the North Korean hackers stole approximately $200 million in crypto.

 In a subsequent report, the US government regretted that the notorious North Korea hackers Lazarus group stole assets worth $600 million from Axie Infinity. Months later, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) identified multiple crypto mixers tied to the North Korean hackers.

After an extensive investigation, the OFAC froze two crypto addresses owned by the Sinbad mixer, which the North Korean illicit group used to launder substantial funds.

Law Enforcers Steps Up to Address Crypto Crime

At that time, OFAC partnered with other law enforcement units to suspend Sinbad’s official website. The seizure of Sinbad activities forced the OFAC to intensify its investigation to suspend other digital wallets and individuals used by North Korean illicit groups to launder funds.

Following the OFAC investigation, Tornado Cash was listed as a sanctioned entity after the mixer was suspected of supporting illicit groups to launder stolen funds. 

The Tornado Cash saga exposed the project developers, including Roman Storm and Alexey Pertsev, to multiple legal charges. According to the report, Roman Semenov Tornado Cash’s developer faced money laundering and evasion of sanction charges.

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