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Inside the Lazarus Group – North Korea’s Crypto Crime and Risks to the Financial Sector

Hand touching a digital Compliance user interface

In conversation with Jonathan Levin, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Chainalysis

Pressured by sanctions, the government of North Korea has turned to an unexpected outlet to generate funds and move money – Cryptocurrency crime. Cyber threat groups tied to North Korea, have targeted cryptocurrency exchanges in recent years, with considerable success. Last August, a UN panel estimated the country was responsible for over $500 million in funds stolen from exchanges.

Those looted funds are typically moved through exchanges and into the traditional financial sector, creating risks for both crypto firms and banks. Earlier this month, the U.S. government took action against two Chinese nationals for their role in helping the North Korea-aligned Lazarus Group launder funds stolen in cryptocurrency exchange hacks. The DOJ listed 145 virtual currency accounts and addresses that were used to launder the funds, 20 of which were included in a sanction designation, and any dealings with them carry civil and criminal penalties. In this edition of the CrimeCast, we’re joined by Jonathan Levin, the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Chainalysis, a leading blockchain intelligence and investigations firm. We’re taking an in-depth look at how Lazarus launders stolen money, and how investigators, exchanges, and financial institutions can leverage blockchain forensic tools like those provided by Chainalysis to fight back.

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