The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury has announced the first-ever sanctions on cryptocurrency mixers. According to the Treasury, the mixing service was used by the Lazarus Group to handle illegal revenues from the $ 620 million crypto robbery of the online game Axie Infinity.
Treasury sanctions crypto mixer
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury announced on Friday that it has approved the cryptocurrency mixer Blender.io (Blender). According to OFAC, this mixing service is being used by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) “to support malicious cyber activities and money laundering of stolen cryptocurrencies.”
According to the announcement, on March 23, the North Korean state-sponsored cyber hacking group Lazarus Group carried out the largest cryptocurrency robbery ever in a blockchain project linked to the online game Axie Infinity. .. OFAC has been added as follows:
Blender was used to process illegal revenues in excess of $ 20.5 million.
OFAC approved the Lazarus Group on September 13, 2019, adding that it “identified it as an agency, means, or control of the North Korean government.” This designation is based on the Group’s “Relationship with North Korea’s Supreme Intelligence Agency, the United States and the United Nations Designated Korean People’s Army Bureau.”
Under the Secretary of Finance for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson commented:
Today, for the first time, the Treasury has approved a crypto mixer.
A study by OFAC also found that Blender facilitated money laundering of Russia-linked malignant ransomware groups such as Trickbot, Conti, Ryuk, Sodinokibi and Gandcrab.
The US Treasury has clarified the following:
Most cryptocurrency activities are legal, but can be used for illegal activities such as sanctions avoidance through mixers, peer-to-peer exchanges, darknet markets and exchanges.
“This includes promoting robbery, ransomware schemes, and other cybercrime,” said the Treasury.
The announcement details that as a result of sanctions, all property and interests in Blender.io in the United States or under the possession or control of Americans are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. .. In addition, entities owned by at least 50% of one or more blocked persons will also be blocked, and all transactions involving Americans or within the United States involving designated or blocked persons will be prohibited.
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