How is a North Korean casino
Biggest Cyber Robbery Ever - Did North Korea Launder $ 81 Million At The Casino?
This story could easily serve as a template for a new gangster film - like "Oceans 11" with George Clooney and Brad Pitt ...
At the center of the (real) action is a casino in the Philippines. In the game: $ 81 million stolen money, the game of chance "Baccarat" and the dictatorial regime of North Korea.
► ACT ONE: In February 2016, an attack on the central bank in Bangladesh caused an international stir. The attackers cracked the bank's security system and stole $ 81 million.
Actually, the gang wanted to steal $ 951 million from the central bank. It was only because the first transfers to the criminals were noticed by a checking mechanism in connection with sanctions that they were stopped. Still: $ 81 million was lost.
Sounds like a nice sum and a financially carefree life for the hackers. However, these days it is impossible to spend that much money without attracting attention. Especially when agents from three countries are meticulously searching for the stolen money.
► ACT TWO: The recipients of the money, Ding Zhize and Gao Shuhua from China, went to the “Solaire” casino in Manila (Philippines) at the end of February 2016, reported the “Bloomberg” news agency on Friday, which researched the case in detail.
Wash millions with the card game "Baccarat"
Ding Zhize and Gao Shuhua took a couple of high rollers into the casino's VIP room - experienced casino gamblers who usually spend a lot of money at the gaming table. And the boss of the house was also involved ...
In an exclusive ambience - with lots of cigars and cognac - "Baccarat", a card game of chance, was played. The casino chips were only valid in this one room that evening, the most valuable chip (in the form of a badge) had a value of 20000 dollars.
The goal of the criminals: They wanted to achieve a "healthy", that is, inconspicuous mixture of profits and losses.
Money laundering in the casino is not about earning more money, but rather converting the already existing millions into casino chips. At the end of the evening, these chips could then be exchanged for almost undetectable dollar cash.
After their big casino evening, the cyber criminals disappeared from the scene. And with them the money...
North Korea is sitting at the table
The story does not end in the “Solaire” casino in Manila, however. A large part of the $ 81 million has now found its way to North Korea.
► ACT THREE: According to Bloomberg, the FBI is currently investigating whether North Korea has anything to do with the cyber attack on the central bank in Bangladesh. Perhaps the two casino Chinese were just the money launderers and not the actual backers.
How Kim Jong-un finances his luxury life
Several Internet security companies (e.g. Symantec Corp. and BAE Systems) are of the opinion that the alleged North Korean hacker group "Lazarus" is behind the attack. The security experts see similarities between the cyber attack on the US media company Sony in 2014 and the attack on the bank in Bangladesh.
► It is well known that North Korea has an international network of money launderers. Dictator Kim Jong-un (33) circumvents the multitude of sanctions against his regime by criminally raising money abroad.
North Korea expert Michael Madden told BILD: "There are large foreign trading companies that are controlled by Kim's helpers and ensure that the dictator is provided with money."
Madden stated, “The Kim family is a billion-dollar fortune. Part of this money is deposited in large and well-known international financial institutions. "
Another thing that speaks for a connection between Ding Zhize and Gao Shuhua and North Korea is that the two Chinese maintained good contacts in the casino town of Macau (50 kilometers from Hong Kong). Macau has historically been one of the places North Korea has hidden money accounts.
Long before the two Chinese money launderers sat at the “Baccarat” table, several accounts were opened at the “Rizal Commercial Banking Corp” in Manila. This is where the boss of the "Solaire" casino, Kim Wong, comes in again.
He said in court that he opened the accounts together with the Chinese Gao Shuhua. Fake names and addresses were used for this.
► The trick: When the big cyber bank robbery was done, the money was transferred to the accounts from which the two Chinese financed their money laundering evening in the casino.
The casino owner subsequently asserted that Gao Shuhua lied to him and said the money came from a major property sale to the Chinese government.
In April the Filipino judiciary ruled that the case against Wong should be dropped due to lack of evidence. Wong now has 15 million dollars, which apparently has not yet been gambled away (i.e. laundered)to the central bank in Bangladesh repaid.
The FBI and the Bangladesh government are investigating where the rest of the money is. The tracks lead via Macau to North Korea.
The two money launderers were tracked down and arrested by the Chinese authorities last year. When Gao Shuhua's wife asked the police what she could do to get her husband out of prison, she received this reply: "Don't even try to hire a lawyer."
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