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U.S. imposes sanctions on crypto mixer over ties with N. Korean hackers

Diplomacy 01:08 August 09, 2022

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8 (Yonhap) -- The United States imposed sanctions on virtual currency mixer Tornado Cash on Monday for its involvement in laundering virtual currency stolen by North Korean hackers.

The Department of Treasury said the currency mixer helped launder over US$455 million stolen by North Korea's state-sponsored hacking group, known as the Lazarus Group, in what it called the "largest known virtual currency heist to date."

"Today, Treasury is sanctioning Tornado Cash, a virtual currency mixer that launders the proceeds of cybercrimes, including those committed against victims in the United States," Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson was quoted as saying in a press release.

The department said Tornado Cash has laundered more than $7 billion worth of virtual currency since its creation in 2019.

Both Tornado Cash and the Lazarus Group have been sanctioned by the U.S. since 2019, according to the department.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a separate statement, reaffirming U.S. commitment to crack down on illegal cyber activities by North Korean hackers.

"The United States will continue to pursue actions against mixers laundering virtual currency for criminals and those who assist them," he said, adding Tornado Cash is the second virtual currency mixer to be designated by the U.S.

The U.S. imposed sanctions on crypto currency mixer Blender.io in May for laundering some $20.5 million out of nearly $620 million stolen by the Lazarus Group from online game Axie Infinity earlier in the year.

"The United States will not hesitate to use its authorities against malicious cyber actors, to expose, disrupt, and promote accountability for perpetrators and enablers of criminal activities," Blinken said in the released statement.




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