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

This Friday, USA imposed “for the first time” financial sanctions on a “mixer cryptocurrencies”. It is a service accused of being involved in “nefarious cyber activities” and virtual money laundering by North Korea.

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The Treasury Department accuses blender.io to be partially linked to the robo of 620 million dollars (586 million euros) in cryptocurrencies at the end of March, attributed by the US authorities to a group of hackers linked to Pyongyang. Mixers combine cryptocurrencies, which makes it difficult to know the origin of the funds.

Virtual currency mixers that favor illegal transactions pose a threat to the national security of the United StatesTreasury Deputy Secretary Brian Nelson said in a statement.

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

In mid-April, the US federal police accused the Lazarus group and APT38, hackers “associates” to the North Korean regime, of being responsible for the theft of 620 million dollars in ethereum which was preceded by an attack in March on video game players Axie Infinityin which cryptocurrency 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.

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Massive destruction weapons

To avoid harsh UN and US sanctions, North Korea has shifted to stealing funds from cryptocurrency exchanges and blockchain-based companies to generate revenue for its illegal weapons of destruction programs. massive ballistic missile”, affirmed the head of US diplomacy, Anthony Blinkenin 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 counterparts”, according to the Treasury.

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

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