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North Korean Hackers Siphon Cryptocurrencies Worth $400m in 2021

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Cyber Security - Investors King

A report by Chainalysis, a blockchain analysis firm has revealed that North Korea launched at least seven attacks on cryptocurrency platforms extracting nearly $400 million worth of digital assets last year.

The targets of the hacks were not identified, but the report noted that the victims were basic investment firms and centralized exchanges, including Liquid.com. The exchange company had announced in August that an unauthorized user had accessed some of the cryptocurrency wallets it managed.

The hackers were said to have used phishing lures, code exploits, malware, and advanced social engineering to steal organizations’ internet-connected ‘hot’ wallets funds. The funds were traced to North Korea-controlled addresses.

Last year, the US charged three North Korean computer programmers – working for the Asian country’s intelligence service, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, – accusing them of years-long hacking spree, aimed at stealing more than $1.3 billion in money and cryptocurrency, from companies, banks and Hollywood movie studios.

Chainalysis explained that the hacking group, the Lazarus Group likely carried out the majority of last year’s cyberattacks. According to the United States, the group is controlled by the North Korean intelligence.

The Lazarus Group had faced accusations of being involved in attacks on International banks and customer accounts, including an earlier 2014 cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment using the “WannaCry” ransomware.

The report added that 2021 was one of the most successful years on record for crypto hackers and cyber attackers.

It should be recalled that Investors King reported that CheckPoint Solutions Technology said Africa has about 1,600 cyber attacks in the year under review, while North America records about 497 attacks weekly. Weekly attacks globally amount to a total of 5,193 as Asia records 1,299 attacks, Latin America (1,117), and Europe with 665 attacks

“From 2020 to 2021, the number of North Korean-linked hacks jumped from four to seven, and the value extracted from these hacks grew by 40%. Once North Korea gained custody of the funds, they began a careful laundering process to cover up and cash out,” the Chainalysis report noted.

Some of the hackers are still said to be sitting on the stolen funds, not spending them, in hopes that they could outwit law enforcement’s interest before cashing out.

However, According to United Nations experts monitoring sanctions on North Korea, the country has used stolen funds to support its nuclear and ballistic missile programs to circumvent sanctions. The Asian country also appeared to step up efforts to launder stolen cryptocurrency, by significantly increasing its use of mixers, or software tools that pool and scramble cryptocurrencies from thousands of addresses, Chainalysis said.

Researchers had also identified $170 million in old, unlaundered cryptocurrency holdings from 49 separate hacks spanning from 2017 to 2021, the report added.

North Korea has still not responded to media inquiries, but has previously released statements denying allegations of hacking. Without any official word for the cyber attacks traced to the country, “Whatever the reason may be, the length of time that (North Korea) is willing to hold on to these funds is illuminating, because it suggests a careful plan, not a desperate and hasty one,” Chainalysis concluded.

Joy Uyino is an avid writer who specializes in stories relating to business, agriculture, technology, education and health. She has written for NTA Channels 10, Lagos and Core News Nigeria. Joy is also an educator with many years of experience.

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Loans

Loan Default: AMCON Takes Over IBEDC

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AMCON

Further to the judgment of the Federal High Court on the 8th of September 2021, the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has announced its takeover of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC).

This is following the electricity distribution company’s default in a loan servicing agree­ment executed with Polar­is Bank.

“AMCON has been ap­pointed receiver/manager over all the Assets of In­tegrated Energy Distribu­tion and Marketing Lim­ited as stipulated in the instruments executed in favour of AMCON by vir­tue of the Loan Purchase and Limited Servicing Agreement executed with Polaris Bank Limited dat­ed 30th November 2018 and a Notice of Appointment of the Receiver/Manager dated August 6th, 2021, which was duly stamped by the Commissioner for Stamp Duties”, a statement from AMCON reads.

AMCON further revealed that it has appointed Osayaba Giwa-Osagie to take over the entire undertakings on the IBEDC, including the assets, shares and interests in related companies and entities, and also monies kept in any of the 25 banks in Nigeria.

Investors King gathered that AMCON’s takeover might also not be unconnected to some crisis inside the power company, a development which has reportedly affected its ser­vice delivery to customers.

IBEDC’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), Engineer John Ayodele however allayed the fears of the IBEDC staff.

“I hereby wish to inform all staff that there is no cause for alarm. We are assured of job security which entails our position/duties in the company, being entitlements to our salaries and other benefits etc.”, he said.

Investors King recalls that the IBEDC, during a stakeholders’ meeting in May 2021 had disclosed that it secured N4.2billion from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to improve power supply to its numerous customers in Ogun State.

According to Ayodele, the facility would be channelled into building lines to improve power/electricity supply to the communities. He had also revealed that 80 percent of the money collected by IBEDC goes for other services, adding that the company has lost over N3billion in estimated billing.

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Finance

Lawmakers Consider Capital Market Bill, Propose Ten-Year Jail Term For Ponzi Scheme Operators

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Ponzi schemes

Some Nigerians would still cringe at the mere mention of ‘Investment’. This is due to their exposure to the dubious schemes of fake investment platforms and Ponzi schemes.

Hence, as part of efforts in curbing this, a bill seeking the prohibition of Ponzi and Pyramid schemes has passed the second reading at the house of representatives. The bill also proposes a 10-year prison sentence for operators of the Ponzi and pyramid schemes.

The bill, which was sponsored by the Chairman, house committee on capital markets, Ibrahim Babangida, also seeks to repeal and re-enact the Nigerian Capital Market, Investments and Securities Act.

It is titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Investments and Securities Act, 2007 and Enact the Investments and Securities Bill to Establish Securities and Exchange Commission as the Apex Regulatory Authority for the Nigerian Capital Market as well as Regulation of the Market to Ensure Capital Formation, the Protection of the Market to Ensure Capital Formation, the Protection of Investors, Maintain Fair, Efficient and Transparent Market and Reduction of Systematic Risk; and for Related Matters.’

A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that pays existing investors with the money collected from new investors. The scheme generally leads victims to believe that their earnings are from genuine business investments, and therefore, can be sustained.

Regarded as one of the world’s largest Ponzi schemes of all time, the Mavrodi Mundial Moneybox (MMM) is a Russian-founded Ponzi scheme which left some Nigerians in despair at their lost “investments” after the company suddenly went into ‘extinction’ in 2017.

After MMM, a lot of other fake investment platforms have emerged and are still emerging, ripping Nigerians off their monies.

The bill, when passed into law, will enable SEC to properly regulate the capital market, ensure capital formation, protect the market to ensure capital formation, protect investors, maintain a fair, efficient and transparent market and reduce systematic risks.

According to Babangida, current trends in capital markets regulation have made it necessary to make major improvements to the Nigerian capital market, the Investments and Securities Act, Act No. 29 of 2007, which was initially signed into law by the late President Umar Musa Yar’adua in June 2007.

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Banking Sector

Parallex Bank Debuts As Newest Commercial Bank In Nigeria

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Parallex Bank

Parallex Bank, a licenced Microfinance Bank, has successfully transited to a commercial bank after 14 years of operations.

According to the bank’s chairman, Dr. Adeola Phillips, the bank is delving into the commercial banking space, to drive consumer-centric innovation that will propel the banking industry to greater heights.

The bank’s Managing Director, Mr. Olufemi Bakre, who spoke during the launch of the bank’s commercial operations, affirmed that the bank’s promise to its customers is to be an enabler of limitless banking. According to him, the vision of the bank is to be the preferred financial solution provider redefining customer experience through innovation.

The bank revealed its plan to disrupt the market and delight customers with very attractive offers. It noted that most transactions on Parallex mobile app are free but beyond that, customers will have the freedom to do much more with the app.

Parallex bank converted from Parallex Microfinance Bank (a National Microfinance Bank incorporated in 2008 as a Unit MFB) to a commercial bank duly licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria to carry out commercial banking services. This is a first-of-its-kind achievement in the Nigerian banking space.

The bank noted that it is “poised to be the preferred financial solutions provider redefining customer experience through digital innovations.

“This we will achieve by leveraging the best talents and technology to deliver unparalleled value to our stakeholders. With a strong ecosystem anchored around the customer, we offer a superior product portfolio that is customer-focused and innovative, yet simple”.

With a vision to leverage the best talent and technology to deliver unparalleled value to all its stakeholders, the bank noted that it is open to working with various stake holders to amplify its impact and capability.

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