U.S. prosecutors charged two Chinese nationals with aiding a North Korean hacking scheme by laundering more than $100 million of cryptocurrency, according to an AP report in the Star Advertiser. In an indictment unsealed today in Washington, D.C., Li Jiadong and Tian Yinyin were accused of a conspiracy to launder money and operating a money transmission business without a license.
The duo were allegedly laundering cryptocurrency stolen by North Korean hackers, who accessed a digital currency exchange two years ago and used fake identification to evade detection. The hackers reportedly stole almost $250 million in digital currency. Yinyin and Jiadong’s money laundering scheme apparently began even before that hack, as the pair allegedly laundered hacked cryptocurrency from the end of 2017 until April 2019.
U.S. attorney Timothy Shea described the activities as a threat to global financial security:
“The hacking of virtual currency exchanges and related money laundering for the benefit of North Korean actors poses a grave threat to the security and integrity of the global financial system.”
The U.S. is seeking recovery of the stolen funds and has placed sanctions on both defendants and their cryptocurrency addresses.