Washington [US], August 8 (ANI): The United States on Monday announced sanctions against virtual currency mixer Tornado Cash over alleged involvement in money laundering of more than USD 600 million stolen by North Korea hackers in one of the largest known virtual currency heists to date.
"Today, the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned virtual currency mixer Tornado Cash, which has been used to launder more than USD 7 billion worth of virtual currency since its creation in 2019," US Treasury Department said in a press statement.
This includes over USD 455 million stolen by the Lazarus Group, a North Korean state-sponsored hacking group that was sanctioned by the US in 2019.
Tornado Cash has reportedly been used to launder billions worth of virtual currency since its creation in 2019. This is the second virtual currency mixer designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, following the sanctions imposed on Blender.io in May 2022.
"Tornado Cash was subsequently used to launder more than USD 96 million of malicious cyber actors' funds derived from the June 24, 2022, Harmony Bridge Heist, and at least USD 7.8 million from the August 2, 2022, Nomad Heist. Today's action is being taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13694, as amended, and follows OFAC's May 6, 2022 designation of virtual currency mixer Blender.io (Blender).
The US government said it will continue to pursue actions against mixers laundering virtual currency for criminals and those who assist them.
"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," said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. "Despite public assurances otherwise, Tornado Cash has repeatedly failed to impose effective controls designed to stop it from laundering funds for malicious cyber actors on a regular basis and without basic measures to address its risks. Treasury will continue to aggressively pursue actions against mixers that launder virtual currency for criminals and those who assist them."
Treasury has worked to expose components of the virtual currency ecosystem, like Tornado Cash and Blender.io, that cybercriminals use to obfuscate the proceeds from illicit cyber activity and other crimes.
While most virtual currency activity is licit, it can be used for illicit activity, including sanctions evasion through mixers, peer-to-peer exchangers, darknet markets, and exchanges. This includes the facilitation of heists, ransomware schemes, fraud, and other cybercrimes.
Treasury continues to use its authorities against malicious cyber actors in concert with other US departments and agencies, as well as foreign partners, to expose, disrupt, and hold accountable perpetrators and persons that enable criminals to profit from cybercrime and other illicit activity. (ANI)