The US Office of Foreign Assets Control added the crypto mixer Blender.io to its list of organizations sanctioned for dealing with North Korea.
In a press release on Friday, the US government linked the site to use by groups in North Korea to launder stolen cryptocurrency, including in the attack against Axie Infinity's Ronin Bridge in March. It says North Koreans used Blender.io to process $20.5 million out of the almost $620 million stolen.
“Today, for the first time ever, [the] Treasury is sanctioning a virtual currency mixer,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson in the 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.”
Along with listing 46 addresses linked to Blender.io, the Treasury also added four new wallet addresses used by North Korea’s Lazarus Group, which has been sanctioned since 2019.
According to the Treasury, Blender.io has facilitated the transfer of over $500 million in bitcoin since its launch in 2017. The investigation has also linked it to money-laundering transactions by Russian-linked ransomware groups Trickbot, Conti, Ryuk, Sodinokibi and Gandcrab.
The Treasury said it will continue to investigate the use of mixers for illicit purposes and consider the range of authorities it has to respond to crypto financing risks.