North Korea has laundered $1 billion in crypto via Tornado Cash - and the US Treasury just slammed the platform with sanctions

  • In World
  • 2022-08-08 18:38:43Z
  • By Business Insider
North Korea Kim Jong Un submarine
North Korea Kim Jong Un submarine  
  • The US Treasury sanctioned Tornado Cash, a cryptocurrency platform used by criminals for obscuring origins of funds.

  • As of Monday, all US entities or persons are barred from using Tornado Cash.

  • North Korea cyber-criminals have laundered $1 billion in crypto through this platform, TRM Labs said.

The US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control on Monday sanctioned crypto platform Tornado Cash, which North Korean hackers have used for laundering.

The sanctions prohibit any Americans or American entities from using Tornado Cash. The government alleged the platform had shortcomings that benefited cyber-criminals, who have used Tornado Cash to launder $7 billion in crypto.

"Despite public assurances otherwise, Tornado Cash has repeatedly failed to impose effective controls designed to stop it from laundering funds for malicious cyber actors on a regular basis and without basic measures to address its risks," said Brian Nelson, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in a statement.

And according to a separate estimate from TRM Labs, North Korea alone has laundered approximately $1 billion in stolen funds through Tornado Cash.

The digital asset mixer - which is used to obscure the origins of funds and privately transact on the Ethereum blockchain - was involved in the Axie Infinity hack in March, when North Korean cyber-criminal group Lazarus stole $625 million.

"Today's sanctions against Tornado Cash is a watershed moment, not only for the crypto industry, but for financial sanctions writ-large as it targets, as, opposed to prior sanctions, a widely used mixing service and, potentially, answers the question of whether or not US regulators and law enforcement are going to tolerate the use of mixers to launder illicit proceeds," Ari Redbord, head of legal and government affairs at TRM Labs, told Insider in emailed comments.

Efforts to reach Tornado Cash for comment were not successful.

Redbord also noted that North Korea in particular is a cash-strapped government with minimal export revenues, so cryptocurrency laundering has a particularly high upside for the nation's bad actors and could be used to fund weapons programs.

In April, Redbord told Insider that North Korean groups have perpetrated many online hacks, but they've grown increasingly sophisticated over time.

"Over the last year or so, we've moved from a post 9/11 world into a new digital battlefield," he said previously. "Nation-state actors know to go after crypto businesses to fund real weapon proliferation. It's not just some hackers trying to fund a lifestyle."


More Related News

Treasury sanctions 7 Iranian leaders over violence against protestors, internet shutdown
Treasury sanctions 7 Iranian leaders over violence against protestors, internet shutdown
  • World
  • 2022-10-06 23:53:45Z

The U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned seven Iranian government and security leaders on Thursday for their suppression of women's rights protests...

US hits Iran with more sanctions over Mahsa Amini death
US hits Iran with more sanctions over Mahsa Amini death
  • World
  • 2022-10-06 17:01:10Z

The U.S. on Thursday imposed more sanctions on Iranian government officials in response to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, as protests have embroiled...

North Korea condemns US, South Korea military drills
North Korea condemns US, South Korea military drills
  • World
  • 2022-10-06 16:12:46Z

North Korea on Thursday pushed back at the U.S. military's recent activity in the region, calling it a "serious threat to the stability" of the Korean...

Kim Jong Un
Kim Jong Un's Silence as Missiles Fly Shows Shift in Strategy
  • World
  • 2022-10-06 12:00:00Z

(Bloomberg) -- North Korea's latest barrage of missiles may look like another attempt to ratchet up hostilities in return for some sort of leverage at the...

North Korea fires more missiles as US carrier is sent to Sea of Japan
North Korea fires more missiles as US carrier is sent to Sea of Japan
  • World
  • 2022-10-06 11:42:11Z

North Korea fired two more ballistic missiles into the ocean on Thursday as the Pentagon deployed a U.S. aircraft carrier to the region. The short-range...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: World