The United States imposed financial sanctions on Monday, August 8 against the “mixer of cryptocurrencies“Tornado Cash, accused of being used to launder more than $7 billion in virtual currency since 2019, including in connection with North Korea. US Treasury “sanctions Tornado Cash, a virtual currency mixer that launders money from cybercrimes, including those committed against victims in the United States,” Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in a statement.
Among the $7 billion in virtual currency the platform allegedly laundered, according to the Treasury, are “plus $455 million stolen by the Lazarus Group, a state-sponsored hacking group from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ( DPRK) and which was sanctioned by the United States in 2019, in the biggest theft of virtual currency known to date”. In mid-April, US authorities accused the Lazarus group and APT38 – hackers “associated” with the reclusive regime – of being responsible for the theft of $620 million in ethereum, which followed the hacking of the Axie Infinity video game at the end of March. .
Used to move illicit funds
Tornado Cash is one of the leading cryptocurrency “mixers”, which allow users to hide their movements of currencies like bitcoin or Ethereum by mixing them with other users' transfers. According to US authorities, these types of services are not illegal per se but are frequently used to move illicit funds. They further point out that other “mixers”, as well as anonymization technologies within the cryptocurrency ecosystem, are in their sights. “Despite publicly claiming otherwise, Tornado Cash has repeatedly failed to impose effective controls designed to prevent it from laundering funds to malicious cyber actors and with no mechanisms in place to address its risks,” notes Brian Nelson.
This is the second time Washington has imposed financial sanctions on a cryptocurrency blender, after those targeting Blender.io in May, also accused of involvement in Korea's virtual money laundering. North. “The United States will continue to take action against mixers who launder virtual currency for criminals and those who assist them,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. The US Treasury sanctions provide for the freezing of any assets in the United States of targeted individuals or entities and prevent any transactions with US nationals.