US Sanctions Cryptocurrency “Mixer” for First Time for Supporting North Korea

Cryptocurrency mixing is a technique that makes it difficult to trace the origin of funds.


Mixers combine cryptocurrencies, which makes it difficult to know the origin of the funds. “Virtual currency mixers that facilitate illegal transactions pose a threat to the national security of the United States,” Treasury Deputy Secretary Brian Nelson said in a statement.

“We take action against North Korea’s illegal financial activities and we will not leave state-backed theft and its money launderers unanswered,” he warned.

In mid-April, US federal police accused the Lazarus group and APT38, hackers “associated” with the North Korean regime, of being responsible for the theft of $620 million in ethereum that was preceded by an attack in March on players of the Axie video game. Infinity, in which cryptocurrencies can be earned by playing or trading avatars.

The Ronin network, used for this game, had been the victim of one of the biggest hacks related to cryptocurrencies.

Massive destruction weapons

“To avoid severe UN and US sanctions, North Korea has turned to theft of funds from cryptocurrency exchanges and blockchain-based companies to generate revenue for its illegal weapons programs. mass destruction and ballistic missiles,” said the head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, in another statement.

However, the Secretary of State once again recalled the outstretched hand of Washington, which does not cease to reiterate its calls for dialogue with Pyongyang, which have remained unanswered since the arrival of President Joe Biden in the White House since 2021.

According to the US Treasury, Blender was used to launder more than $20.5 million of the $620 million stolen.

Blender, which is also the English name for a food processor, is a service that makes it easier to launder funds extorted by hackers by making it harder to track “their origin, destination, and counterparties,” according to Treasury.

“Under the cover of greater discretion”, it “mixes” the various transactions it receives before “transmitting them to their final recipients” and is therefore “frequently used” by criminals, the Department of Finance added, noting that Blender has helped transfer more than $500 million in bitcoin since it was created in 2017. AFP.