US imposes sanctions on Blender.io over alleged North Korean violation
This is the first case where the US sanctions the virtual currency "mixer".
The United States on Friday announced that it has sanctioned cryptocurrency mixer Blender.io, under the alibi that the currency was used by a cyber hacking group in North Korea to support a weapons program, according to the Department of Treasury.
This would be the first case where the US sanctions the virtual currency "mixer", which is a currency used to conceal or erase Bitcoin (or other currency) transaction history.
Lazarus group, the North Korean-backed cyber hacking group, allegedly stole $620 million worth of Ethereum from Axie Infinity, an online game. The group, Blender, was employed for the operation: it processed over $20.5 million of illicit funds.
According to Treasury, Blender was used by the DPRK "to support its malicious cyber activities and money-laundering of stolen virtual currency."
"Under the pressure of robust US and UN sanctions, the DPRK has resorted to illicit activities, including cyber-enabled heists from cryptocurrency exchanges and financial institutions, to generate revenue for its unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs."
Treasury contends that Blender has been used to transfer $500 million worth of Bitcoin since 2019, in addition to aiding North Korea and supporting Russian-linked malign ransomware groups.
Last October, US Treasury released a report explaining that cryptocurrency "undermines US sanctions."
The report focused on the idea that the use of crypto assets and trade will undermine the effectiveness of the sanctions and that if cryptocurrency continues the way it's running now, there will be less dependency on the US dollar and US financial institutions and systems in the future.
The US dollar, according to the International Monetary Fund, makes up over 60% of all central bank foreign exchange reserves and around 90% of all forex trades. In addition, almost 40% of world debt is in US dollars.