Cryptocurrency privacy protocol, Blender.io has been added to the list of outfits under the sanctions of the United States Treasury Department for its alleged connections to the North Korean cybercrime ring, Lazarus.
As contained in a Press Release published on Friday, Blender comes off as the very first mixing service that will be sanctioned by the US, bolstering the stance of the regulator in its broad-based fight against crypto-linked cybercrime.
“Today, for the first time ever, Treasury is sanctioning a virtual currency mixer,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “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.”
The Treasury Department revealed that approximately $20.5 million of the $620 million stolen from the Axie Infinity’s Ronin Bridge was laundered through Blender. The sanction also stretches to the 46 addresses linked to the mixing service while also adding four new wallet addresses connected to the Lazarus Group to the list.
As a platform that bolsters privacy-related transactions, the Treasury Department submitted that as much as $500 million have been channeled through Blender since its inception and the protocol has found great interest with other hacker groups including Russian-linked ransomware groups Trickbot, Conti, Ryuk, Sodinokibi, and Gandcrab.
Sanctions Implications for Blender
With the sanction of the Blender.io platform, American citizens are now forbidden to provide any form of service to the platform, and any involvement no matter the scale will have to be reported to OFAC.
“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the entity above, Blender.io, that is in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons is blocked and must be reported to OFAC,” the announcement reads, adding that
“Any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. All transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons are prohibited unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt.”
While the regulator is proactive in its sanction efforts, outfits like Binance are also helping Axie Infinity in recovering the funds with over $5 million recovered by the exchange recently as reported by TheCoinRise.