US Treasury imposed sanctions against cryptocurrency mixer for the first time
The regulator claims that the Blender.io service was used by the DPRK to launder digital assets
06.05.2022 - 16:20
What’s new? The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has imposed sanctions on a virtual currency mixer for the first time. According to the regulator, the Blender.io mixer was used by Lazarus, a DPRK-based hacker group, to launder funds stolen from the Ronin Network sidechain. According to the OFAC, the attackers conducted $20,5 million through Blender.io.
What else did the ministry add? All Blender property located in the United States has been blocked. Any transactions using the sanctioned service are banned within the US.
“Virtual currency mixers that assist illicit transactions pose a threat to US national security interests. We are taking action against illicit financial activity by the DPRK,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson.
During the investigation, the OFAC also uncovered Blender’s assistance in money laundering for Russia-linked ransomware, including Trickbot, Conti, Ryuk, Sodinokibi, and Gandcrab.
The principle behind the mixers. Such services are used to increase the anonymity of transactions. A mixer user sends the cryptocurrency to an address that the platform has generated specifically for them. These coins are mixed with the assets of other mixer users. Just the client’s other address receives the same amount of mixed coins, so it becomes almost impossible to track where the funds came from.
What happened before? During the investigation into the Ronin Network hack, the US Department of Treasury and the FBI linked the sidechain attack to the Lazarus hacker group. The regulator already the wallet containing the stolen 148 000 ETH to the sanctions list.
The US Treasury Department also imposedsanctions against BitRiver, a mining company operating within the Russian Federation. BitRiver’s operations and assets, including its 10 subsidiaries, have been completely blocked in the United States. According to the regulator, Russian mining could help circumvent sanctions.
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