News: US Treasury Department Imposes Sanctions on Three North Koreans for Supporting Crypto-Related Crimes and Lazarus Group Hacking Team


On April 21, 2023, the U.S. Treasury Department announced the banning of three North Korean individuals for supporting the Lazarus Group, a notorious hacking team responsible for various cyberattacks and crypto thefts worldwide. The individuals in question, Cheng Hung Man, Wu Huihui, and Sim Hyon Sop, were found to be involved in crypto activities themselves, with Cheng and Wu acting as over-the-counter (OTC) traders who facilitated crypto transactions for the Lazarus Group, and Sim providing other forms of financial support.

According to the Treasury Department, these individuals were tied to the networks of DPRK entities laundering stolen crypto or moving illicit funds for North Korea, all of which were used to support the country's weapons program. The department also identified several bitcoin addresses associated with Wu and ether, arbitrum, and Binance chain addresses tied to Sim, further reinforcing their involvement in illicit activities.

The sanctions serve as a warning to those who participate in crypto-related crimes, particularly those linked to North Korea. The Lazarus Group has been known to mount multibillion-dollar campaigns against the crypto world, using the proceeds to fund North Korea's weapons program. The group is controlled by North Korea's intelligence organization, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, and was responsible for the largest-ever crypto heist, stealing $625 million in digital assets from the Ronin network tied to the Axie Infinity game.

The sanctions also highlight the need for increased scrutiny and regulation of the crypto industry. The use of crypto for illicit activities has become a growing concern, particularly with the rise of ransomware attacks and other forms of cybercrime. The U.S. government has been taking steps to address this issue, with various agencies working to develop policies and regulations to combat crypto-related crimes.

One agency that has been actively involved in this effort is the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The agency's Commissioner, Christy Goldsmith Romero, is set to speak at the Consensus 2023 conference, where she will discuss the policy fallout from the 2022 market crash, the advance of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), and more.

The CFTC has been working to regulate the crypto industry, with the agency taking various enforcement actions against crypto-related scams and frauds. The agency has also been working with other regulatory bodies to develop a comprehensive regulatory framework for the industry, with a focus on protecting investors and ensuring market integrity.

The U.S. Treasury Department's sanctions on the three North Korean individuals involved in supporting the Lazarus Group serve as a reminder of the risks associated with crypto-related crimes. It also highlights the importance of increased regulation and oversight of the crypto industry to prevent such illicit activities from occurring in the future. The Consensus 2023 conference provides a platform for experts like Commissioner Romero to discuss these issues and work towards developing effective solutions to address them.

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