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North Korea launders $147.5 million in stolen cryptocurrency, UN experts reveal

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North Korea launders $147.5 million in stolen cryptocurrency, UN experts reveal

North Korea funnelled $147.5 million through the cryptocurrency mixer platform Tornado Cash in March, according to a confidential report by United Nations sanctions monitors reviewed by Reuters.

This illicit activity follows a hack on the HTX cryptocurrency exchange late last year, marking a major case in a broader pattern of North Korean cyber thefts targeting digital currency platforms.

The UN monitors reported to the Security Council sanctions committee that they have been investigating 97 suspected North Korean cyberattacks on cryptocurrency firms from 2017 to 2024, with total stolen funds amounting to approximately $3.6 billion.

The $147.5 million laundered in March was linked directly to the HTX exchange breach, based on data from crypto analytics firm PeckShield and blockchain research firm Elliptic.

In 2024 alone, the monitors have scrutinised 11 cryptocurrency thefts valued at $54.7 million, noting that many of these attacks might have been inadvertently facilitated by small crypto-related companies hiring North Korean IT workers.

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These workers, operating abroad, reportedly generate substantial income for the isolated nation, which continues to face severe international sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear and missile programs.

North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), has been under UN sanctions since 2006.

Despite these measures, the country has continued to find ways to finance its prohibited activities, including through cybercrime and the use of virtual currency mixers like Tornado Cash.

The US sanctioned Tornado Cash in 2022 for allegedly supporting North Korean money laundering activities.

In 2023, two of its co-founders were charged with facilitating over $1 billion in illicit transactions, including for a North Korean cybercrime group.

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Virtual currency mixers like Tornado Cash function by blending cryptocurrencies from various users, obscuring the origin and ownership of the funds.

This makes them attractive tools for laundering stolen cryptocurrency.

Lawyers for Tornado Cash co-founder Roman Storm, who pleaded not guilty to US charges in September, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The UN sanctions monitors faced a setback when their mandate expired at the end of April due to a Russian veto against its renewal.

Despite this, some monitors submitted incomplete work, including the findings on North Korea’s cryptocurrency activities, to the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee.

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In addition to cyber theft, the UN monitors have been investigating reports of Russia releasing $9 million of North Korea’s frozen assets and allowing Pyongyang to open an account at a Russian bank in South Ossetia.

This arrangement is reportedly aimed to enhance North Korea’s access to international banking networks.

Furthermore, the monitors observed continued maritime activities suggesting ongoing arms trade between North Korea and Russia.

Ships suspected of carrying weapons have been seen travelling between North Korea’s Rajin port and Russian ports like Vladivostok and Vostochny.

China has also been implicated, with a North Korean vessel reportedly undergoing maintenance at China’s Ningbo port.

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The US and its allies have accused North Korea of supplying weapons to Russia for use in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, a charge both Moscow and Pyongyang deny.

However, both nations have committed to deepening their military cooperation.

In an additional report last month, UN monitors confirmed that debris from a missile that landed in Kharkiv, Ukraine, in January was from a North Korean Hwasong-11 series ballistic missile.

This highlights North Korea’s ongoing missile development and potential involvement in global conflicts.

North Korea’s evasion of UN sanctions continues to be a significant issue.

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The monitors documented 208 voyages by North Korean cargo ships suspected of offloading coal in Chinese waters, often through ship-to-ship transfers.

Chinese Coast Guard vessels were observed in proximity to these transfers, raising questions about enforcement and compliance with international sanctions.

The Chinese mission to the UN did not immediately respond to requests for comment on these findings.

(With inputs from Reuters)

Shashwat Sankranti

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Breaking and writing stories for WION’s business desk. A literature nerd, closeted poet and a novelist (in the making). 


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Whales Scoop Up 20,000 BTC In 24-Hour Buying Spree Amid Bitcoin Price Drop

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Whales Scoop Up 20,000 BTC In 24-Hour Buying Spree Amid Bitcoin Price Drop

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Bitcoin (BTC) has continued its volatility trend, with recent fluctuations heightening the attention of seasoned investors on its next likely trajectory. Notably, the top crypto asset’s price has been consolidating its gains in the past few weeks, hovering around the $68,000 mark after reaching an all-time high above $73,000 in March.

Meanwhile, amidst the ongoing pullback, Bitcoin whales have embarked on a buying spree, acquiring a staggering 20,000 BTC in just 24 hours, according to insights shared by crypto analyst Ali Martinez.

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The significant purchase, totaling approximately $1.34 billion at current market rates, occurred as Bitcoin prices dipped below the $67,000 mark. This sudden surge in whale activity suggests a renewed confidence in Bitcoin’s long-term potential despite short-term market fluctuations.

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Martinez’s revelation comes just after crypto analytics firm IntoTheBlock revealed that addresses holding between 1,000 and 10,000 BTC have been the primary accumulators during Bitcoin’s recent surge to $70,000. On Thursday, the firm noted that these addresses added 20,000 BTC ($1.4 billion) to their balances over the past seven days, further solidifying Bitcoin’s position as a preferred asset among institutional and large-scale investors.

Other analysts have also closely monitored Bitcoin’s price movements and market dynamics. Glassnode, a leading on-chain data provider, highlighted a notable decline in Bitcoin Long-Term Holder (LTH) supply leading up to the cryptocurrency’s all-time high (ATH) of over $73,000 in March 2024. However, this distribution pressure has eased off in recent weeks, signaling a shift in market sentiment favoring bullish tendencies.

Adding to the bullish sentiment, cryptocurrency analyst “Gaah” from CryptoQuant highlighted the Puell Multiple, a metric used to gauge Bitcoin miner profitability following halving events. The recent decline in the Puell Multiple indicates a potential market adjustment to increased scarcity, potentially paving the way for a future rally in Bitcoin prices.

“The reduction in miners’ daily revenue indicates that mining has become less profitable, unless the price of Bitcoin increases significantly. The current range in which the Puell Multiple is quoted confirms Price discount, meaning that the network is potentially cheap. The decrease in the supply of new bitcoins could create upward pressure on the price, especially if demand continues to grow. Investors may interpret the fall in the Puell Multiple as a sign that the market is adjusting to a new phase of scarcity, potentially preparing for a rally.” The pundit noted.

Despite market uncertainties, Bitcoin appears to be encountering minimal resistance as it hovers around key support levels. Data from IntoTheBlock suggests that the cryptocurrency faces a crucial supply zone between $70,180 and $70,600, where over 450,000 addresses acquired 273,000 BTC. This accumulation by retail investors further reinforces the bullish outlook for Bitcoin in the near term.

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According to CoinMarketCap data, BTC was trading at $69,173 at press time, reflecting a 2.72% price surge over the past 24 hours.

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Harnessing cryptocurrency to widen financial inclusion in Africa

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Harnessing cryptocurrency to widen financial inclusion in Africa

As we commemorate Africa Day, it’s crucial to reflect on the strides made toward economic empowerment and financial inclusion across the continent. Amidst the array of challenges, one notable phenomenon stands out: the rise of cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency adoption in Africa has sparked significant transformations. Across the continent, it is enabling individuals to access financial services previously out of reach for many. This technological advancement is narrowing the gap between the banked and the unbanked, offering a lifeline to millions excluded from traditional financial systems.

Think of a migrant worker sending money back home to his family overseas. In many countries, there are sizeable groups of people who cannot afford to sustain a bank account. At the same time, such people would struggle to meet the fees associated with conventional remittance services.  

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This challenge represents a vast segment of the global population. Globally, an estimated 1.4 billion people remain unbanked as of 2021, as per the most recent comprehensive estimate by the World Bank. This number is equal to roughly a quarter of the global adult population.

In light of these challenges, cryptocurrency is enabling individuals from all walks of life to access financial services previously out of reach for many from traditional financial systems. 

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At the forefront of this evolution are industry leaders like Binance, contributing to positive changes in Africa’s financial landscape. Through user-friendly platforms and educational initiatives such as Binance Academy and Binance Charity, they facilitate transactions and promote financial literacy and philanthropy. These efforts underscore the potential for crypto adoption to reshape financial norms.

The recent surge in Bitcoin prices further underscores the potential of cryptocurrencies to generate wealth and economic opportunities. Africa’s cryptocurrency landscape witnessed a remarkable surge in February 2024, echoing the global trend, with total market capitalisation soaring by 40 percent. In December 2023, the monthly change in crypto market capitalisation was 15.2 percent, but February 2024 witnessed a remarkable acceleration to 40 percent.

Beyond benefiting investors, this surge provides ordinary Africans with new avenues for prosperity. Whether through remittances, cross-border trade, or protection against inflation, crypto adoption offers a decentralised alternative that transcends borders and empowers individuals.

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However, amidst the promise, challenges persist. Regulatory uncertainties and infrastructure deficiencies pose obstacles to widespread adoption. Collaboration among governments, regulators, and industry stakeholders is essential to cultivate an environment conducive to crypto innovation. Clear regulatory frameworks, investment in technological infrastructure, and education, are vital to unlocking the full potential of cryptocurrency adoption in Africa.

Looking ahead, Africa stands at a crossroads. The adoption of crypto presents a unique opportunity to redefine the continent’s financial landscape, fostering inclusivity and economic empowerment for all. With visionary leadership, strategic partnerships, and a commitment to innovation, Africa can lead the world in harnessing the transformative power of cryptocurrency.

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On this Africa Day, let us celebrate the progress made and recommit ourselves to building a more prosperous and inclusive future for all Africans, driven by the transformative potential of crypto adoption, one step at a time.

Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, serving 190 million users across 100 countries, is taking pizza to the moon for Bitcoin Pizza Day. Over six days, Binance will be distributing more than 5,000 pizzas globally to reach consumers worldwide for Bitcoin Pizza Day. Binance is taking steps to truly own the holiday on a global scale, delivering on its mission to educate and engage with both crypto and non-crypto users.

Hannes Wessels is the Country Head for Binance in South Africa

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Technium International: Pioneering the Future of Cryptocurrency Trading

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Technium International: Pioneering the Future of Cryptocurrency Trading

In the rapidly evolving world of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, Technium International has emerged as a significant player, quickly rising through the ranks of the tech giants. Founded in 2018 and based in Seychelles, Technium International gained recognition by leveraging the latest advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology.

The company’s rise to prominence can be attributed to the leadership of its founder, Jacob Steffan, a seasoned expert in the blockchain industry since its early days in 2009. Under his guidance, Technium International has positioned itself as a global leader in cryptocurrency trading and technology. Steffan’s extensive knowledge of real-world applications and the transformative potential of blockchain has been instrumental in driving the company’s success.

Technium Matrix Protocol: A Groundbreaking Initiative

Central to Technium’s rapid ascent is the Technium Matrix Protocol (TMP), an innovative initiative that integrates cryptocurrency trading with big data analysis. TMP has not only transformed the landscape of cryptocurrency trading but also established Technium as a beacon of innovation and excellence in the tech industry. By utilizing a robust infrastructure that includes big data, cloud computing, and Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) rendering, Technium has optimized every aspect of the trading process.

Big data analytics provide deep market insights and risk assessments, cloud computing ensures scalability and real-time execution, and GPU rendering enhances the speed and efficiency of market monitoring and strategy adjustments. These technologies collectively ensure that Technium’s operations are efficient, secure, and profitable.

Technium Sentinel Strike: Streamlining Cryptocurrency Trading

Building on the success of TMP, Technium developed the Technium Sentinel Strike (TSS), an in-house strategy for cryptocurrency trading. TSS aims to streamline the trading process, offering users the tools to navigate the complex cryptocurrency markets with precision. By combining advanced technology with financial expertise, Technium has created unparalleled opportunities for individuals worldwide to confidently engage in cryptocurrency trading.

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TSS utilizes sophisticated algorithms to interpret vast amounts of data, surpassing traditional trading methods by offering superior insights and precision. This approach addresses several key barriers in the cryptocurrency trading market, including market volatility, misinformation, and complex interfaces.

Breaking Barriers in Cryptocurrency Trading

Technium aims to mitigate the challenges posed by market volatility, which often deters new traders due to unpredictable price swings. The platform enhances information reliability by filtering out misinformation and providing dependable sources for decision-making. To bridge the knowledge gap, Technium offers educational resources and simplified trading strategies, empowering newcomers with a better understanding of market dynamics.

Additionally, Technium simplifies complex interfaces and technical terminology, making trading more accessible to users of all experience levels. The platform also prioritizes customer support to address trader inquiries and issues promptly. By minimizing the human factor in trading, Technium reduces emotional decision-making and streamlines portfolio management processes, ensuring timely trade execution and maximizing profitability for users.

Expanding Blockchain Accessibility

With the growing global acceptance of cryptocurrency, Technium is poised to lead a transformative shift towards widespread blockchain adoption. The company’s forthcoming ecosystem is designed to include Real World Assets (RWA), game-fi, cloud mining, and cryptocurrency staking, representing a significant shift in blockchain accessibility and utilization.

Technium’s ecosystem aims to democratize access to blockchain technology, empowering individuals from all walks of life to participate in the digital economy. RWA integration brings tangible assets into the digital realm, while game-fi offers immersive experiences that incentivize engagement and education. Cloud mining allows users to participate in cryptocurrency mining without the hassle of hardware maintenance, and crypto staking transforms utility tokens into dynamic assets, earning rewards for passive income.

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At the heart of Technium’s ecosystem are robust AI algorithms that leverage big data for unparalleled insights and decision-making. The Technium Trading GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) exemplifies this innovation, revolutionizing cryptocurrency trading with its predictive capabilities and real-time market analysis.

A New Era of Innovation and Empowerment

Through this comprehensive approach, Technium International is set to redefine the blockchain landscape, ushering in a new era of innovation and empowerment. By harnessing the collective power of AI, big data, and blockchain technology, the company is ready to make blockchain adoption a tangible reality for all, paving the way for a future where blockchain technology is accessible and beneficial to everyone.

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