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FBI alerts crypto firms over hackers’ plot to cash out $40 million

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The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said it has uncovered plans by hackers to cash out over $40 million in stolen funds through six Bitcoin addresses.

The FBI in an advisory warned crypto companies to be vigilant in guarding against transactions directly with, or derived from the addresses. It identified the hackers as those affiliated with the North Korea-backed Lazarus Group, also known as APT38 and “TraderTraitor.”

The FBI said that over the past 24 hours, it had tracked approximately 1,580 Bitcoin, worth more than $40 million, that the North Korean hackers are currently holding in six separate crypto wallets. It added that these funds were stolen during “several” cryptocurrency heists.

The Bureau in the advisory issued on Tuesday said:

  • “The FBI is warning cryptocurrency companies of recent blockchain activity connected to the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency. Over the last 24 hours, the FBI tracked cryptocurrency stolen by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) TraderTraitor-affiliated actors (also known as Lazarus Group and APT38). The FBI believes the DPRK may attempt to cash out the bitcoin worth more than 40 million dollars.
  • “The DPRK TraderTraitor-affiliated actors were responsible for several high-profile international cryptocurrency heists including the $60 million theft of virtual currency from Alphapo on June 22, 2023; the $37 million theft of virtual currency from CoinsPaid on June 22, 2023; and the $100 million theft of virtual currency from Atomic Wallet on June 2, 2023.
  • “The FBI previously provided information on their attacks against Harmony’s Horizon bridge and Sky Mavis’ Ronin Bridge and provided a Cybersecurity Advisory on TraderTraitor.”

It urged all private sector entities to examine the blockchain data associated with the addresses of the hackers provided and be vigilant in guarding against transactions directly with the addresses.

  • “The FBI will continue to expose and combat the DPRK’s use of illicit activities—including cybercrime and virtual currency theft—to generate revenue for the regime,” it added.

According to a recent report from blockchain intelligence company TRM Labs, North Korean hackers have stolen almost $2 billion in cryptocurrency since 2018 over more than 30 attacks, including almost $1 billion in 2022 alone. Lazarus Group has stolen approximately $200 million in 2023 so far, according to the report, accounting for over 20% of all stolen crypto this year.

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CBN announces date to hold MPC meeting

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced its forthcoming monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting.

In a statement on Tuesday, the CBN said its 296th MPC meeting between July 22 and 23.

The committee is the highest policy-making committee of the bank, led by Olayemi Cardoso, CBN governor.

The MPC meeting is set up to review the country’s economic and financial conditions and determine the appropriate monetary policy direction in the short to medium term.

At the last meeting held on May 20 and 21, the committee raised the monetary policy rate (MPR), which benchmarks interest rates from 24.75 percent to 26.25 percent.

The MPC retained the asymmetric corridor at +100 basis points and -300 basis points around the MPR.

The committee also retained the cash reserve ratio (CRR) at 45 percent for deposit money banks and 14 percent for merchant banks.

Speaking to the press after the meeting, Cardoso had said the reason for the interest rate hike was to tame inflation.

He also said the committee’s efforts to contain inflation are yielding results.

On July 15, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its consumer price index (CPI) report for June, said Nigeria’s inflation rate rose to 34.19 percent in June 2024 — up from 33.95 percent in May.

According to the bureau, the headline inflation rate in June showed an increase of “0.24% points when compared to the May 2024 headline inflation rate”.

NBS also said food inflation surged to 40.87 percent in the month under review as prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages continued to surge.

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Nigerians can now obtain UAE visas, says FG

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Mohammed Idris, minister of information and national orientation, says Nigerians can now apply for and obtain visas to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Idris said the federal government has reached an agreement with the UAE to allow Nigerian passport holders to obtain visas for travel to the Arab nation starting today, July 15.

The minister spoke with the State House correspondents in Abuja on Monday, shortly after the weekly federal executive council (FEC) meeting.

He said the agreement includes updated controls and conditions to be fulfilled before the issuance of a UAE visa.

On December 13, 2021, the UAE issued a travel restriction on passengers from Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, citing a surge in the countries’ COVID-19 cases among passengers from the two African nations.

However, TheCable reported the travel ban might not be unconnected with the diplomatic row between Nigeria and the UAE over Air Peace’s flight frequency to the Arab country.

Air Peace had requested a slot of three weekly flights from Nigeria to Sharjah Airport in the UAE, but only one was granted by the country’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

GCAA said Air Peace should not expect to retain its flight frequency after pulling out of Sharjah Airport; the Nigerian airline, however, denied the claim.

In retaliation for Air Peace’s treatment in the UAE, the federal government dropped Emirate’s slots from 21 to one, leading to the Dubai-based airline suspending all its flights to Nigeria.

In September 2023, the federal government said the airline would resume services in Nigeria, signaling a resolution of the dispute.

The assurance followed a meeting between President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Mohamed bin Zayed, president of the United Arab Emirates.

But since the meeting and the federal government’s announcement, Emirates has yet to begin scheduled flight operations.

In April, Festus Keyamo, minister of aviation and aerospace development, said Emirates Airlines is prepared to resume flight operations to Nigeria.

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Lagos state government designates 5 operational parks for trucks in Lekki-Epe corridor ahead of e-call up system launch

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The Lagos State Government has designated five operational parks for trucks in the Lekki-Epe corridor in anticipation of the e-call-up system’s launch on August 1, 2024.

This strategic initiative aims to regulate truck movements and prevent the traffic congestion previously seen at Apapa and Tin Can Ports.

According to Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation Oluwaseun Osiyemi, the designated parks for articulated trucks in the Lekki-Epe corridor are Hog Marketing Limited in Okorisan, Epe; Nilmage Two4Seven in Poka, Epe; Goldspeed Freight Agency Ltd. opposite Dangote Refinery on Lekki Coastal Road; Diamond Star Ports and Terminal Ltd. in Abule Panu, Lekki-Epe; and Tal Concept Ltd. at HFP Brick Industry on Lekki-Epe Expressway.

“Five operational parks for trucks: Hog Marketing Limited (Okorisan, Epe), Nilmage two4seven (Poka, Epe), Goldspeed Freight Agency Ltd (Opp. Dangote Refinery, Lekki Coastal Road), Diamond Star Ports and Terminal Ltd. (Abule Panu, Lekki-Epe), Tal Concept Ltd (HFP Brick Industry, Lekki-Epe Expressway),” the statement read in part.

Furthermore, the Lagos State Government has mandated that all articulated trucks operating in the corridor must be equipped with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. This requirement aims to streamline and automate the management and tracking of truck movements once the system goes live next month.

Additional initiatives in the implementation plan include the separation of wet and dry cargo and the deployment of vehicle inspection services at parks for vehicle certification.

These measures are designed to eliminate traffic congestion, address environmental concerns, and reduce accidents caused by trucks along the corridor. They will also help manage the increased activity expected from the Dangote Refinery, Lekki Port, and other entities.

The Lagos State Government provided additional details on the e-call up system, clarifying that it will officially launch on August 1, 2024, through the platform mycallup.com, with full enforcement beginning on August 7, 2024.

Compliance with this system is mandatory, and trucks that fail to comply will be impounded to ensure strict adherence to the new regulations.

The government emphasized the necessity of cooperation from all stakeholders for the success of this initiative. This includes truckers, organizations, security agents, and local communities, all of whom must work together to prevent a recurrence of the severe traffic congestion and logistical issues previously experienced at Apapa and Tin Can Ports.

The active participation and commitment of these groups will be instrumental in ensuring a smoother and more efficient transportation process along the Lekki-Epe corridor.

The state government emphasizes that by adhering to these regulations and fully cooperating, stakeholders can contribute to a more organized, safer, and environmentally friendly transport environment in Lagos.

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Bodex F. Hungbo, SPMIIM is a multiple award-winning Nigerian Digital Media Practitioner, Digital Strategist, PR consultant, Brand and Event Expert, Tv Presenter, Tier-A Blogger/Influencer, and a top cobbler in Nigeria.

She has widespread experiences across different professions and skills, which includes experiences in; Marketing, Media, Broadcasting, Brand and Event Management, Administration and Management with prior stints at MTN, NAPIMS-NNPC, GLOBAL FLEET OIL AND GAS, LTV, Silverbird and a host of others

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