The US Treasyry’s Foreign Affairs Branch has sanctioned a Bitcoin Mixer for the first time. It concerns the blender Blender that is rumored to be used by North Korea to support the country’s cyber activities. On March 23 of this year, North Korea’s Lazarus Group managed to commit the largest cryptocurrency theft in history. In total, $620 million in crypto was stolen from the online game Axie Infinity.
Lazarus then sent $20.5 million of those funds to Blender to anonymize it. Under pressure from US and United Nations sanctions, North Korea has turned to criminal activity to raise capital. It focuses, among other things, on the crypto world.
First sanctioned Bitcoin mixer
“Today, the Treasury is sanctioning a virtual currency mixer for the first time,” said the Treasury’s Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “Virtual currency mixers that facilitate unauthorized transactions are a threat to the national security of the United States. We are taking action against North Korea’s illegal financial activities and will not allow state-sponsored theft and money laundering,” Nelson said in clear language about the decision.
In addition, the Treasury is updating a so-called blacklist of personal names to identify addresses used by Lazarus Group. The Treasury says it is doing everything it can to disable mixer services like Blender, which are fundamental to embezzling stolen funds.