Binance, Huobi Freeze $1.4m Worth of Crypto in ‘North Korea-linked’ Wallets

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read
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Source: SFIO CRACHO/Adobe

The crypto exchanges Binance and Huobi have frozen “North Korea-linked” wallets containing “approximately $1.4 million in cryptoassets.”

Per a blog post from the blockchain analytics firm Elliptic and a report from MBC, the coins “originated from the June 2022 hack of Harmony’s Horizon Bridge.”

Elliptic said its “investigators” traced the coins through the Tornado Cash coin mixer.

The firm claimed that the coins had “remained dormant until recently,” when its investigators “began to see them funneled through complex chains of transactions, to exchanges.”

The firm claimed that it “promptly notified” Binance and Huobi about the “illicit deposits.” And it said the exchanges responded by “suspending accounts” and “freezing funds.”

Simone Maini, the Elliptic CEO, was quoted as saying:

“As an industry, we have the power and responsibility to prevent digital assets [from] becoming a haven for money launderers and sanctions evaders, and ensure that they are a force for good.”

The hack saw some $100 million stolen from Horizon Bridge. Security agencies in both the United States and South Korea have blamed the North Korean-linked Lazarus group for the attack. Many security providers have also pointed the finger at Pyongyang.

Experts have also claimed that Lazarus attempted to launder some $63 million worth of crypto through the Railgun protocol in January this year.

But this effort, exchanges claimed, was – at least partially – thwarted, with Binance and Huobi again teaming up to intercept a “hacker account.”

More “Hacked North Korean Crypto Funds” Intercepted

And there was more bad news for suspected hackers – as Norwegian Police reported they had “seized $6 million” worth of funds stolen in the March 2022 Ronin bridge attack.

The gaming-focused bridge connects blockchain networks, and was used by the crypto game Axie Infinity.

Aleksander Larsen, the Co-founder and COO of Sky Mavis, the Axie Infinity operator, thanked Binance on Twitter for “acting fast and freezing” the funds.

The Binance CEO responded the exchange was “doing [its] part” for the crypto “ecosystem.”

Earlier this week, Elliptic claimed that Lazarus was currently making use of a coin mixer named Sinbad. The firm claimed that Sinbad was a “rebrand” of the now-defunct Blender mixing service.