On Friday, the US announced that it is sanctioning North Korean digital currency mixing company Blender.io, which the nation allegedly uses to launder stolen digital currency and foster cybercrimes.
The sanctions, imposed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department are the first-ever on virtual asset mixing service. The new sanctions also highlight the growing use of digital assets to preserve illegal acts by individuals and state actors.
Mixing services combine several assets such as potentially illegally obtained funds and genuinely received funds so that illegal actors can hide the origin of stolen funds.
Blender is accused of aiding Lazarus Group, a sanctioned North Korean cyber hacking group, to conduct a $620m virtual currency heist in March, the biggest of its kind to date. Four virtual currency addresses or wallets, linked to Lazarus Group were also added to the list of sanctioned entities of the Treasury.
The previous month, the United States imposed its first set of fines against a crypto mining company regarding Russia’s war on war. Virtual currency company Bitriver AG and ten of its subsidiaries were included in a package of sanctions from the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department.