The US Treasury Department has banned three North Korean individuals for supporting the Lazarus Group, a hacking team known for stealing cryptocurrency to support North Korea’s weapons program. The individuals, Cheng Hung Man and Wu Huihui, were over-the-counter (OTC) traders who facilitated crypto transactions for Lazarus, while Sim Hyon Sop provided other financial support. The Treasury investigation identified several Bitcoin addresses associated with Wu while tying an ether, arbitrum, and Binance chain address to Sim.
The Lazarus Group has been accused of mounting a multimillion-dollar campaign against the crypto world, the proceeds of which fund North Korea’s weapons program. The Treasury says the hacker group is controlled by North Korea’s intelligence organization, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, and was behind the largest-ever crypto heist when it stole $625 million in digital assets from the Ronin network tied to the Axie Infinity game. The US Department of Justice later charged Sim with conspiracy for his work with the OTC traders. According to Brian Nelson, the department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, “The DPRK continues to exploit virtual currency and extensive illicit facilitation networks to access the international financial system and generate revenue for the regime.