A pair of Chinese citizens have been charged with allegedly laundering over US$100 million in cryptocurrency on behalf of North Korean hackers who purportedly stole more than US$250 million in crypto.
U.S. authorities allege that, following the hack of a cryptocurrency exchange in late 2018, two Chinese nationals, Tian Yinyin and Li Jiadong, helped launder over US$100 million worth of stolen Bitcoin.
They were charged with money laundering conspiracy and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.
The allegations have not been proven.
According to the U.S. indictments, the stolen Bitcoin was laundered through hundreds of automated transactions designed to prevent law enforcement from tracing the funds.
Among other things, the indictment alleged that Yinyin laundered approximately US$1.5 million worth of Bitcoin by exchanging crypto for iTunes gift cards.
“The hacking of virtual currency exchanges and related money laundering for the benefit of [North Koreans] poses a grave threat to the security and integrity of the global financial system,” said U.S. attorney Timothy Shea in a statement.
According to U.S. authorities, “a portion of the laundered funds was used to pay for infrastructure used in North Korean hacking campaigns against the financial industry.”
“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,” said Don Fort, U.S. Internal Revenue Service criminal investigation chief, in a statement.