Norwegian Regulator Økokrim Seizes $5.8M from Lazarus Group

UTC by Godfrey Benjamin · 3 min read
Norwegian Regulator Økokrim Seizes $5.8M from Lazarus Group
Photo: Unsplash

According to the announcement, Økokrim is committed to returning the crypto funds back to Sky Mavis, the parent company of Axie Infinity.

The Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime popularly called Økokrim has announced the seizure of the sum of 60 million Norwegian Krone (approximately $5.8 million) from the Lazarus Group. Per the Press Release shared by the regulator, the funds come off as the largest seizure by the Norwegian police.

The funds also represented the largest-ever criminal seizure in Norway, marking a historic milestone for the Økokrim. The regulator said the seizure followed the investigations into the hack of Axie Infinity’s Ronin Bridge back in March 2022. Økokrim affirmed that the investigation was conducted alongside the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The seizure of the funds has been judged a good feat for the intelligence outfit in Norway in following the proceeds of crime.

“Økokrim are experts at following the money. This case shows that we are also good at following the money on the blockchain even though criminals use advanced techniques to avoid detection,” says Senior Public Prosecutor Marianne Bender.

The hack of the Ronin Bridge at the time led to more than $620 million in funds being moved from the platform. The attack at the time was tagged as the largest in the digital currency ecosystem and the FBI identified the Lazarus Group as the perpetrator.

According to Økokrim, an extensive investigation was launched to track the movement of the funds by the notorious hacker group. It was confirmed that a series of complicit money laundering efforts were employed to conceal the origin and destination of the funds. However, the superior tracing capabilities of Økokrim helped in confiscating the funds before they were converted into real-world fiat currency.

Økokrim alleged that the Lazarus Group intended to use the proceeds from the loot to fund the North Korean Nuclear programs, a scheme that has now been foiled.

Økokrim to Return Seized Funds to Sky Mavis

According to the announcement, Økokrim is committed to returning the crypto funds back to Sky Mavis, the parent company of Axie Infinity. The commitment also extends to the continued tracing of the remaining funds in order to foil future attempts that can empower terrorists around the world.

The hack of Axie Infinity generated interest from many regulators around the world, especially those from the United States. In the wake of the pain caused by the hackers, a series of sanctions were imposed on key crypto mixers including and Tornado Cash for their roles in the laundering activities of the Lazarus Group.

Besides the roles of regulators, exchanges and security platforms in the crypto ecosystem have also been making significant headway in helping Axie Infinity to recoup the lost funds. In such moves, Binance announced it has been able to retrieve as much as $5.8 million of the stolen funds that the hackers tried to channel through Binance.

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