Investigators Stop North Korea from Laundering Harmony’s Stolen Fund

  • In June 2022, North Korea’s Lazarus Group had stolen $100 million from Harmony through a malicious attack.
  • The hackers attacked the firm to launder the fund for strengthening North Korea’s illicit missile program.

According to the latest reports, the investigation team behind the Californian crypto firm Harmony theft has been engaged in a series of relentless efforts to prevent the North Korean authoritarian regime from embezzling multibillion dollars to enhance its illicit activities.

Previously in June 2022, Harmony identified that almost $100 million has been stolen from the firm through a “malicious attack”. Later, in January 2023, it was revealed that North Korea’s hacker team that supports the dictator Kim Jung-Un, known as the Lazarus Group has been responsible for the theft.

Following the revelation, a group of Korean spies and US private investigators assembled at the South Korean intelligence service, discussing plans and taking initiative to restrict hackers from laundering the amount, which would finally be utilized for the country’s illegal missile program.

Though some of the efforts of the government officials in the South Korean city of Pangyo ended futile, and a majority of the stolen amount stays untouched by the officials, finally in late January, they were able to freeze the transaction of more than $1 million.

Notably, an official stated that as the North Koreans need money, “they’re going to keep being creative”, adding:

I don’t think [they] are ever going to stop looking for illicit ways to glean funds because it’s an authoritarian regime under heavy sanctions.

Significantly, North Korea’s crypto hacking had been a key focus to enhance the autocratic rule of Kim Jung-Un. In a joint statement by the US, Japanese, and South Korean diplomats, they lamented that North Korea continues to “pour its scarce resources into its WMD [weapons of mass destruction] and ballistic missile programs.”

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