Federal authorities charged three North Korean intelligence operatives for their alleged roles in a global hacking campaign to steal or extort more than $1.2 billion in cash and crypto-currencies from financial institutions and other entities, according to a indictment unsealed Wednesday.
The U.S. case, targeting members of North Korea’s military intelligence unit known as the Reconnaissance General Bureau, represents a broad expansion of an investigation initially made public in more than two years ago involving the 2014 cyberattack against Sony Pictures and AMC Theaters in retaliation for its movie “The Interview,” which depicted a fictional assassination of the North Korean leader.
The expanded investigation also produced separate charges against a Canadian-American citizen who is accused of helping the North Korean operatives launder millions of dollars in stolen funds. The suspect is expected to plead guilty to the charges, authorities said.
Assistant Attorney General John Demers, chief of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, described the operation as “a criminal syndicate with a flag” representing the North Korean government.