US Fines Virtual Currency Mixer Tornado Cash

The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on virtual currency mixer Tornado Cash, accusing it of helping hackers, including from North Korea, to launder proceeds from their cyber crimes.

A senior Treasury Department official said Tornado Cash, one of the largest mixers identified as problematic by the Treasury, has reportedly laundered more than $7 billion worth of virtual currency since it was created in 2019.

Monday’s move freezes any U.S. assets of the mixer and generally bars Americans from dealing with it.

The Lazarus Group, a well-known North Korean government-backed hacking group that has conducted numerous data breaches, both politically and sometimes financially motivated, has laundered at least $455 million through Tornado Cash, the Treasury said.

The Lazarus Group is already under US sanctions. The group has conducted numerous significant data breaches historically, including an intrusion into Sony Pictures in late 2014.

US and South Korean officials say North Korea controls thousands of hackers that steal funds, including cryptocurrencies, to finance its weapons programs.

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