Treasury sanctions Chinese hackers

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control on Monday sanctioned two Chinese hackers for laundering cryptocurrency valued at $91 million previously stolen by North Korean cyber criminals.

The agency sanctioned Chinese nationals Tian Yinyin and Li Jiadong for providing financial and technological support for a North Korean hacking group known as Lazarus that stole $250 million from a cryptocurrency exchange in 2018. Tian and Li were sent $91 million from the funds stolen by Lazarus, as well as $9.5 million from a separate North Korean-sponsored hack.

Once they were in possession of the stolen funds, Tian and Li are then alleged to have transferred the money to various addresses in order to cover up where the funds originated from. About $1.4 million of the stolen cryptocurrency was transferred to Apple iTunes gift cards.

As a result of the sanctions, all U.S. property of Tian and Li have been blocked, and any individuals found to be interacting with them may open themselves up to being sanctioned as well.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin harshly condemned both the Chinese hackers and ongoing North Korea cyberattacks on financial groups in a statement on Monday.

“The North Korean regime has continued its widespread campaign of extensive cyber-attacks on financial institutions to steal funds,” Mnuchin said. “The United States will continue to protect the global financial system by holding accountable those who help North Korea engage in cyber-crime.”