Tian Yinyin and Li Jiadong are charged with money laundering conspiracy and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, according to a press release by the Department of Justice. Tian and Lee allegedly helped convert funds from North Korea hackers through various means, including buying gift cards in exchange for bitcoins.
According to the press release, North Korean co-conspirators stole $250 million in cryptocurrency from an exchange in 2018. The funds were later laundered through hundreds of automated cryptocurrency transactions.
North Korea continues to leverage crypto to avoid sanctions.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has been repeatedly accused of using cryptocurrency to avoid sanctions put on by the United Nations and the United States of America. UN has also claimed that North Korea has been using cryptocurrency to fund its nuclear weapons program. The American officials had long suspected that Chinese nationals have been helping Pyongyang’s hacking efforts, but this was the first time someone has been indicted.
Not the first time someone was indicted for helping DPRK evade sanctions.
The indictment of the Chinese nationals is not the first case where someone was charged for helping Kim Jong un-regime evade sanctions involving cryptocurrency. In December last year, former Ethereum researcher, Virgil Griffith was arrested and later indicted for giving a lecture about blockchain and cryptocurrencies in North Korea. The US officials charged him for helping DPRK evade sanctions using cryptocurrencies.