Fresh details have emerged about the Nigerian Ramon Abbas popularly known as Hushpuppi who is on trial in the United States for business email compromise (BEC) frauds and other scams.
On Wednesday, the Department of Justice accused him of working with North Korean hackers to launder funds stolen from a Maltese bank.
According to a statement released by the justice department, Abbas took part in a “North Korean-perpetrated cyber-enabled heist from a Maltese bank in February 2019.”
The department said the cyberattacks were aimed at stealing and extorting more than $1.3 billion of money and cryptocurrency from financial institutions and companies.
FBI deputy director Paul Abbate said in the statement that Wednesday’s unsealed indictment expands the FBI’s 2018 charges for the “unprecedented cyberattacks conducted by the North Korean regime.”
The U.S. is specifically accusing North Koreans Jon Chang Hyok, 31, Kim Il, 27, and Park Jin Hyok, 36, of being members of the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), a military intelligence agency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
The three North Koreans are described in the statement as being connected to “North Korean military hacking units” known in the cybersecurity community as Lazarus Group and Advanced Persistent Threat 38 (APT38).
Abbas is linked to one specific part of the “broad array of criminal cyber activities undertaken by the conspiracy,” namely money laundering and the attack on a “foreign financial institution.
Abbas was linked to the North Korean conspiracy this week when federal prosecutors unsealed a charge against Ghaleb Alaumary, 37, of Ontario, Canada.
Alaumary plead guilty to charges related to his role as a money launderer for the North Korean group filed in November 2020.
The attack, although largely unsuccessful, was of such seriousness in Malta that the country’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, was forced to address parliament in 2019 over what the Times of Malta described as the “creation of false international payments that saw €13 million transferred to banks in four countries.” The amounts were reportedly “traced” and “reversed” and none of the bank’s customers lost their money.
A representative for Abbas could not be reached for comment on the new developments in the case, according to Forbes.