WASHINGTON: The United States placed sanctions on Monday on Tornado Cash, a leading “crypto mixer” for transactions in virtual currency that US officials describe as a hub for laundering stolen funds, including by North Korean hackers.

The Treasury said Tornado Cash had been used to transfer at least $96m of funds stolen in June from crypto exch­ange service Harmony Bridge, and another $7.8m of the nearly $200m in crypto currency hacked from Nomad, a similar service.

In addition, Tornado Cash was used to transfer and mask $455m of the more than $600m worth of ethereum, a leading virtual currency, stolen in April from the Axie Infinity game via the Ronin Network.

That theft, which the Treasury called the largest known crypto heist to date, was carried out by North Korean state-backed hacking units known as the Lazarus Group and APT38, according to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Tornado Cash is one of the leading mixers, also known as tumblers, which help people hide the movements of their crypto currencies like bitcoin and ethereum by blending them with the transfers by other users.

Tornado Cash “has been used to launder more than $7 billion worth of virtual currency since its creation in 2019,” the Treasury said.

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2022

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