US officials tied the North Korean hacker group, Lazarus, to last month's $625 million exploit of the Ronin network.
Yesterday, the United States Department of the Treasury announced
that the Ethereum wallet tied to the Ronin hack had been added to its sanctions list. The hack
, which saw 173,600 ETH and 25.5 million USDC stolen in two transactions, was the biggest recorded cryptocurrency hack ever.
According to a spokesperson of the Treasury Department, the FBI and the Treasury Department coordinated their investigation of the Lazarus Group to expose the perpetrators and prevent other parties from allowing them to launder the stolen funds:
"Identification of the wallet will make clear to other VC actors, that by transacting with it, they risk exposure to US sanctions. This demonstrates Treasury's commitment to use all available authorities to disrupt malicious cyber actors and block ill-gotten criminal proceeds.
There may be mandatory secondary sanctions requirements on persons who knowingly, directly or indirectly, engage in money laundering, the counterfeiting of goods or currency, bulk cash smuggling, or narcotics trafficking that supports the Government of North Korea or any senior official or person acting for or on behalf of that Government."
Former Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith was sentenced to a five-year prison sentence
for breaking US sanctions law regarding North Korea only two days ago.
is a cybercrime group sponsored by the North Korean state that was responsible for cyberattacks in South Korea
, the Sony Pictures hack
, a Bangladesh cyber heist
, and the WannaCry ransom attack
Blockchain analytics firm Elliptic wrote in a blog post
addressing the recent developments that the Lazarus Group is believed to be a vehicle of the North Korean state to fund its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Consequently, blacklisting the hackers' Ethereum
wallet can have tangible geopolitical consequences in light of North Korea's renewed nuclear testing programs.
Ronin is an EVM
-based blockchain for play-to-earn
games that hosts Axie Infinity
, a digital collectibles game. On March 23, hackers exploited the blockchain for over $600 million, but the hack was discovered only six days later. The Lazarus Group has since been attempting to launder the stolen funds.
In its wrap-up of the Ronin hack, Elliptic details how the hackers swapped the stolen USDC for ETH at DEX
es to prevent them from being seized. They subsequently tried to cash out part of the ransom through centralized exchanges
, which drew attention to their operation when the exchanges announced full compliance with law enforcement. The group later swapped $80 million through Tornado Cash
, a mixer that can be used to obscure the provenance of funds.
$433 million remain in the hackers' original wallet, which now has been blacklisted by US authorities to prevent further money laundering.
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