RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded lower on Thursday, falling by 1.26 percent to $20,003.20 as of 8:10 a.m. Riyadh time.
Ethereum, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $1,088.40, falling by 5.12 percent, according to data from Coindesk.
Russia investigating 400 cases related to cryptocurrency
The Federal Financial Monitoring Service of the Russian Federation is trying to detect around 400 cases in which cryptocurrencies are involved, the agency’s director, Yury Chikhanchin, revealed the number during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.
Russian law enforcement authorities have already initiated 20 criminal cases related to digital assets, Bitcoin.com reported.
Chikhanchin acknowledged that Russians continue to actively use cryptocurrency platforms located outside the country.
“This phenomenon continues to exist. And only on two foreign sites, two exchanges, several hundred thousand Russian citizens participate in transactions worth tens of billions,” he said.
According to official data released earlier this year, the number of lawsuits related to cryptocurrency mining in Russia exceeded 1,500 in 2021.
Experts suspect North Korea behind $100 million crypto hack
Digital investigative firms have concluded that North Korean hackers are most likely responsible for an attack last week that took as much as $100 million in cryptocurrency from a US company, according to Reuters.
Cryptocurrency assets were stolen on June 23 from Horizon Bridge, a service provided by Harmony blockchain that transfers assets between blockchains.
The hackers’ activity since then suggests they may be affiliated with North Korea, which experts say is among the most prolific cyberattackers.
The UN sanctions monitors say Pyongyang uses the stolen funds to finance its nuclear and missile programs.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Chainalysis, a blockchain firm working with Harmony to investigate the attack, said the attack pattern and high velocity of structured payments to a mixer were similar to previous attacks attributed to North Korea-linked actors.
“Preliminarily this looks like a North Korean hack based on transaction behavior,” said Nick Carlsen, a former FBI analyst who now works for TRM Labs investigating North Korea’s crypto heists.
A report released by another company, Elliptic, on Thursday indicated there are strong indications that North Korea’s Lazarus Group may be behind the theft.
“The thief is attempting to break the transaction trail back to the original theft,” the report said. “This makes it easier to cash out the funds at an exchange,” it added.
If this attack is confirmed then North Korea would account for 60 percent of total funds stolen in 2022, according to Chainalysis, totaling $1 billion in stolen funds.
South Korean officials and experts told Reuters that the recent drop in cryptocurrency values may have made it harder for North Korea to sell stolen assets.
(With inputs from Reuters)