The U.S. Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on a virtual currency mixer, Sinbad, which has allegedly processed millions of dollars in cryptocurrency from major heists committed by North Korea-linked hackers.
In its press release, the Department stated that the heists were carried out by criminals who stole millions of dollars worth of virtual currency from several Blockchain projects, including Axie Infinity and Horizon Bridge. This includes the theft of $620 million from Axie Infinity in March 2022 and the theft of $100 million from U.S. crypto-firm Harmony’s Horizon bridge.
Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in the release, “Mixing services that enable criminal actors, such as the Lazarus Group, to launder stolen assets will face serious consequences. The Treasury Department and its U.S. government partners stand ready to deploy all tools at their disposal to prevent virtual currency mixers, like Sinbad, from facilitating illicit activities.”
Sinbad did not immediately respond to an email request for comment. Its website displayed a message that the service was seized in a coordinated action by the FBI and agencies in Finland, the Netherlands, and other countries. North Korea’s Mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment.
Virtual currency mixers are software tools that pool and scramble cryptocurrencies from thousands of addresses. Experts in the industry believe that the mixers are used by terrorists and cybercriminals to hide transactions related to other criminal activities, such as evading sanctions, drug trafficking, and purchasing child abuse materials.
The sanctions imposed by the U.S. freeze all Sinbad’s U.S. assets and bar Americans from dealing with it. Anyone who conducts certain transactions with the mixer may also be subject to sanctions.
Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis, Kanishka Singh, and Paul Grant; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Paul Simao. Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.