Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are still hot topics† Many people were recently of the opinion that they are exclusively for criminals, so it took a while before regulation was taken seriously, but that has changed a lot now. Now the United States government even imposes the first sanctions on a so-called bitcoin (BTC) mixer.

Hacker group Lazarus

That’s what the Treasury Department, the US Treasury Department, announced† More precisely, it is the blender Blender.io, not to be confused with the 3D drawing software Blender. The mixer has been banned for helping notorious North Korean hacker group Lazarus Group with money laundering of bitcoins.

Lazarus is known for a large number of hacks, which nowadays make extensive use of cryptocurrencies. The group is practically state-owned and thus carries out government-coordinated attacks. Among other things, the largest Ethereum hack ever comes from Lazarus, and the cryptocurrencies would be used to fund the country’s nuclear weapons program.

Blender was used by North Korea to launder more than $20.5 million. The money came from the Axie Infinity Hack from the end of March. Four Lazarus wallet addresses were discovered that were used in the hack.

First ever sanctions for a crypto mixer

Crypto is very two-sided for governments. On the one hand, they love you to use the technology. For many cryptocurrencies, all transactions are public, which means that crime is relatively easy to solve. On the other hand, they don’t want you to bypass fiat currency and engage in illegal activities.

Mixers therefore do not help with these objectives, which ensure that you can deal with crypto almost invisibly. Then it is no longer possible to determine whether or not you do criminal things. Nevertheless, the threshold to regulate mixers remains high. It would suggest that you should not have any privacy. Mixers are therefore not yet completely illegal in many countries.

huhThe Ministry of Finance emphasizes that the use of Blender by Americans is also prohibited, except if you have special permission to do so. In total, more than 50% of the addresses at the mixer are blocked.

Mixers were, however, previously subject to other measures, including fines. Europol and the Dutch FIOD have the large mixer Bestmixer.io even completely taken off the air. This seems to have been partly active in the Netherlands.

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