Blender.io Iced by US

Market Meditations | May 10, 2022

On Friday, the United States announcedĀ sanctions on Blender.io for allegedly helping North Korea launder millions in stolen Axie crypto. Letā€™s talk more specifically about the allegations and about what it means for the US to announce something like this.

  • The US treasury said that Blender.io was used by theĀ Lazarus hacking group to launder $20.5 million worth of crypto. This crypto was a part of the stolen Axie crypto.
  • The treasury says thatĀ Lazarus is sponsored by the North Korean government. These hackers ā€œgenerate revenue for its unlawful weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile programs.
  • This is theĀ first time the US sanctions a virtual currency mixer. To be clear, the reason is that it is an organization that deals with North Korea.
  • What the sanctions will do are essentiallyĀ cut the bitcoin mixer off from the US financial system.
  • Now that the mixer is sanctioned, it willĀ not be able to access which were stored in the US. It also canĀ no longer do transactions with American companies or citizens.

Questions are arising about whether or not the US government can do this. If we remember from the Axie hack,Ā governments can also sanction wallets affiliated with hacking groups. While mixers may have a bad reputation, we must also remember theĀ positive anonymity that they bring to individuals who value privacy.