Blockchain analytics firm Elliptic has revealed that crypto exchanges Binance and Huobi have frozen accounts containing around $1.4 million in cryptoassets originating from the June 2022 hack of Harmony’s Horizon Bridge. This came after Elliptic provided intelligence, and the exchanges acted swiftly.
The Horizon cross-chain bridge was attacked in June 2022, resulting in the loss of $99.6 million in cryptoassets. The stolen funds were then laundered through Tornado Cash, which is now sanctioned.
Elliptic investigators traced the funds through this mixer and attributed the hack to the North Korea-controlled cybercrime organization Lazarus Group, which the FBI subsequently confirmed.
The misappropriated funds had been inactive until Elliptic’s investigators observed them being directed through intricate transaction pathways to exchanges. Through their swift notification to these platforms about unlawful deposits, they could suspend the relevant accounts and immobilize the frozen funds.
Simone Maini, Elliptic CEO, emphasized the power and responsibility of the industry to prevent digital assets from becoming havens for money launderers and sanctions evaders, ensuring that they are a force for good.
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.
Binance & Huobi Work Together
Binance and Huobi have previously collaborated on a similar issue, demonstrating that this is not their first instance of working together. On January 16th, the two platforms successfully froze and restored 121 Bitcoin, which had a value of $2.5 million at that time and was connected to the Harmony attack.
In a tweet, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao confirmed via Twitter that the hackers had attempted to move the funds through Huobi, prompting Binance to alert and support Huobi in freezing and recovering the assets.
However, the move came after on-chain detective ZachXBT had observed the hackers moving 41,000 Ether worth around $64 million.
Nevertheless, the cryptocurrency industry has been under increasing scrutiny for its potential role in money laundering and other illicit activities.
Exchanges like Binance and Huobi have been working to prevent these activities by investing in advanced security measures and working closely with law enforcement and regulatory bodies.
As cryptocurrency continues to gain mainstream adoption, it is essential for companies to take proactive measures to prevent criminal activity and ensure the integrity of digital assets.
However, the actions taken by Binance and Huobi in freezing these accounts show the industry’s commitment to preventing money laundering and other illicit activities in the cryptocurrency space.
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