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According to a press release from the Department of Justice (DoJ), two Chinese individuals allegedly paid more than $60,000 in Bitcoin to a US government official to obtain classified information. The Chinese suspects have been identified as Guochun He (“Dong He”) and Zheng Wang (“Zen Wang”).
US Department of Justice succeeds in counterintelligence campaign
The suspect allegedly orchestrated a Bitcoin-based bribery scheme to attract members of the Eastern District of New York and “obstruct criminal prosecution” of a major Chinese technology company. This entity is referred to as “Company-1” in the press release.
However, a report from Wall Street Journal (WSJ) identifies the company as “Huawei”, the Chinese media and technology giant. In 2018, the company was accused of dishonesty about its operations in Iran – a country under sanctions from the US government.
According to the plaintiff, the suspect allegedly organized and operated an espionage operation against Huawei’s prosecution. With that in mind, He and Wang approached an agent to execute the plan.
This individual worked with US authorities as a “double agent”. Breon Peace, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said China is making “relentless efforts” to “undermine the rule of law” in the country:
(…) The case involved an attempt by Chinese intelligence agents to thwart an ongoing criminal prosecution by paying bribes to obtain files from this Office and share them with a company. global telecommunications is being charged in an ongoing prosecution. We will always act decisively against crimes against our justice system.
China’s espionage plan?
The two main suspects in the case are He and Wang. He was charged with money laundering on two counts for using $61,000 in Bitcoin to bribe a double agent, and both suspects were charged with obstructing criminal prosecution. Matthew Olsen, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said:
“The Department of Justice will not assist national-state organizations to interfere in the investigation and handling of crimes in the United States, and will not tolerate foreign interference in the governance of the United States.” justice of the judiciary.
The suspects used Bitcoin to pay the double agent on two different occasions. The first case was in 2021, for $40,000, for stealing the strategic memorandum related to the “Huawei” case. The second payment was made for $20,000 in September 2022.
Guochun He faces 60 years in prison and Wang up to 20 years if convicted, according to the press release. Christopher Wray, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said that Chinese spies trying to bridge the gap between US government officials and Bitcoin are a “threat” to the US Constitution and the people. Wray added:
(…) By attempting to steal documents from the Eastern District of New York, intelligence officers from the People’s Republic of China have threatened not only the proceedings of our criminal justice system but also the very idea of justice. A threat to justice is a threat to the very foundations of our free society (…).
Attorney General Garland announced the charges against Chinese intelligence officials: “This is a serious attempt by the PRC (People’s Republic of China) intelligence officers to protect a public company. company based in the People’s Republic of China from accountability and undermine the integrity of our judicial system.” – CSPAN (Twitter channel @cspan) October 24, 2022
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