Why it matters: This is the first time the treasury department has issued sanctions against a cryptocurrency mixer, which can be used for illicit activity.
Driving the news: A North Korean cyber unit called the Lazarus Group stole $620 million back in March and used the cryptocurrency tool Blender to launder more than $20 million of those stolen funds, the Treasury Department said.
- The Treasury Department has now sanctioned Blender, or Blender.io, which is considered a “mixer” software.
- Mixer software will mix transactions “together before transmitting them to their ultimate destinations,” the department said.
- These tools are “designed to anonymize the source of virtual currency by exchanging it for an equal amount of randomized currencies,” per The Hill.
What they’re saying: “Today, for the first time ever, Treasury is sanctioning a virtual currency mixer,” said Brian Nelson, the undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, in a statement.
- “Virtual currency mixers that assist illicit transactions pose a threat to U.S. national security interests.
- “We are taking action against illicit financial activity by the DPRK and will not allow state-sponsored thievery and its money-laundering enablers to go unanswered.”