North Korea Steals $3.6 Billion In Crypto Assets

According to monitors, North Korea has stolen $3.6 billion in crypto assets from cryptocurrency companies between 2017 and 2024, with $147.5 million stolen through the virtual currency platform Tornado Cash in March alone.

North Korea Steals $3.6 Billion In Crypto Assets 1

According to private work by UN sanctions monitors reviewed by Reuters on Tuesday, North Korea laundered $147.5 million through virtual currency platform Tornado Cash in March after obtaining it from a cryptocurrency exchange last year.

In a document sent in on Friday, the monitors informed the sanctions committee of the U.N. Security Council that they had been looking at 97 alleged North Korean assaults against cryptocurrency companies between 2017 and 2024, with a total estimated worth of about $3.6 billion.

The monitors informed the committee that this includes an attack that occurred late last year in which the cryptocurrency exchange HTX saw $147.5 million taken before it was laundered in March of this year. They based their testimony on data from blockchain research company Elliptic and crypto analytics company PeckShield.

“11 cryptocurrency thefts… valued at $54.7 million,” the monitors reported in 2024 alone. Many of those thefts, they added, “may have been conducted by DPRK IT workers inadvertently hired by small crypto-related companies.”

As per the monitors, private corporations and member states of the United Nations claim that North Korean IT personnel working overseas bring in “substantial income for the country.”

Known officially as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), North Korea has been subject to sanctions imposed by the United Nations since 2006. These measures have been reinforced over time to reduce revenue for the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

A request for comment was not immediately answered by North Korea’s delegation to the United Nations in New York.

Tornado Cash was sanctioned by the US in 2022 due to claims that it provides support to North Korea. In 2023, two of its co-founders were accused of helping to launder over $1 billion in funds, some of which went to a cybercrime organization associated with North Korea.

Roman Storm, a co-founder of Tornado Cash, entered a not-guilty plea to the US allegations in September. His attorneys did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Tornado Cash and other so-called “mixer” services for virtual currencies combine many users’ cryptocurrency holdings to conceal the funds’ true source and owners.

The yearly mandate renewal of the U.N. sanctions monitors was vetoed by Russia, leading to its disbandment at the end of April. Unfinished work from a few of the monitors was shared on Friday with the council’s North Korea sanctions committee.

Reports from the sanctions monitors are usually approved by all eight members at first. That approach was not followed by the incomplete work that was turned in to the committee.

The monitors said they had been looking into a report from the New York Times on February 6th, which stated that Russia had released $9 million of the $30 million in assets that North Korea had frozen and had permitted Pyongyang to open an account at a Russian bank in South Ossetia. Pyongyang wanted to improve its access to global banking networks.


Additionally, the monitors said that ships suspected of being involved in the armaments trade between Russia and North Korea had continued to transport containers from Vladivostok and Vostochny in Russia to North Korea’s Rajin port.

One ship, the Angara, may have been awaiting maintenance at China’s Ningbo port since February, according to the sanctions monitors. China was reportedly giving the ship mooring, according to Reuters.

The Russian embassy in New York declined to comment on the activity of the monitors. A request for comment was not immediately answered by China’s U.N. mission.

North Korea has been charged by the United States and other parties with providing weaponry to Russia for use against Ukraine, which it invaded in February 2022. Although they both refuted the charges, Moscow and Pyongyang promised to strengthen their military ties last year.

The Security Council was informed in a separate report by U.N. sanctions monitors last month that the missile wreckage that touched down near Kharkiv, Ukraine, on January 2 was from the North Korean Hwasong-11 series ballistic missile.

North Korean exports of coal, iron, lead, textiles, and seafood have been outlawed by the U.N. Security Council, which has also placed restrictions on imports of refined petroleum products and crude oil.

“The DPRK and its facilitators continue to evade sanctions through maritime means, including with the ongoing acquisition by the DPRK of vessels, import of refined petroleum including via ship-to-ship transfer, and export of coal,” the monitors wrote.

The monitors reported that they had been looking into evidence on 208 trips by North Korean cargo ships to dump coal in Chinese coastal waters, having received information from an unidentified member state. They added that the majority of these trips probably involved ship-to-ship transfers.

“Chinese Coast Guard vessels were on several occasions identified near DPRK vessels suspected of offloading coal in Chinese waters,” the monitors wrote.

As reported recently by GreatGameIndia, FTX’s bankruptcy is yielding an unexpected outcome: creditors could receive up to 142% of what they are owed. This remarkable recovery is attributed to FTX’s asset liquidation and the recent cryptocurrency boom.

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