Binance and Huobi, two cryptocurrency exchanges, have once more blocked accounts connected to the $100 million Harmony Horizon bridge attack from late June.
Cryptocurrency valued at over $1.4 million that the trading platforms blocked originated from accounts connected to the infamous Lazarus Group operating out of North Korea.
Elliptic, a blockchain analytics company, conducted the study, according to a report released by the company on February 14. The company didn’t specify which currencies or tokens were locked, though.
Elliptic said it relayed the information to Binance and Houbi, who swiftly took action to freeze the accounts connected to the Lazarus Group:
“The stolen funds remained dormant until recently, when our investigators began to see them funneled through complex chains of transactions, to exchanges. By promptly notifying these platforms about these illicit deposits, they were able to suspend these accounts and freeze funds.”
Since the Harmony exploits, it has been well-documented that Lazarus Group has turned to Tornado Cash, a privacy mixer now sanctioned by the United States OFAC, in an effort to sever the transaction trail linking a given transaction to the initial theft.
According to the report, elliptic investigators were able to track all of the stolen funds passed through the mixer in this case, despite the fact that doing so is meant to make it simpler to withdraw money from an exchange.
Simone Maini, CEO of Elliptic, claimed that the incidents demonstrated that the sector was accepting responsibility for preventing money laundering and preventing cryptocurrency from becoming a “haven” for illegal activity:
“Today, money laundering was detected and stolen funds linked to North Korea were frozen, in real time. As an industry we have the power and responsibility to prevent digital assets becoming a haven for money launderers and sanctions evaders, and ensure that they are a force for good.”
The Lazarus Group was blamed for the attack on the Harmony bridge by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation on January 24.
The collaboration between Binance and Huobi on this issue is not new.
On January 16, the two sites were able to freeze and retrieve 121 Bitcoin associated with the Harmony assault, which was then worth $2.5 million.
However, according to cryptocurrency detective ZachXBT, who claims the money was routed through Ethereum-based privacy technology Railgun before being transmitted to three separate exchanges, the recovery was only a small portion of the $63.5 million laundered during that weekend.
Recent investigations by Elliptic last week also discovered that Lazarus Group had been using “Sinbad,” which they believe is a relaunch of the now-banned privacy mixer Blender, to launder around $100 million in Bitcoin.
Elliptic estimates that since Lazarus Group changed its emphasis to the sector in 2017, it has stolen well over $2 billion in cryptocurrency.