US Treasury redesignates Tornado Cash sanctions, citing North Korea nuclear weapons program

The redesignation of the crypto mixer essentially replaces the U.S. Treasury’s actions from August, establishing sanctions for its role in “enabling malicious cyber activities.”

The United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control, or OFAC, has amended the sanctions on cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash in addition to including two individuals involved in “transportation and procurement activities” for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in its list of Specially Designated Nationals.

In a Nov. 8 announcement, the Department of the Treasury said it had “delisted and simultaneously redesignated” Tornado Cash in addition to taking into account activities conducted by North Korean nationals Ri Sok and Yan Zhiyong in its basis for sanctions. The government department reiterated its claims that the crypto mixer was involved in laundering $455 million in crypto stolen by the North Korea-affiliated Lazarus Group.

The redesignation of Tornado Cash essentially replaces Treasury’s actions against the crypto mixer in August, establishing sanctions for its role in “enabling malicious cyber activities, which ultimately support the DPRK’s [weapons of mass destruction] program.“ The original sanctions included the Lazarus Group, but did not show connections with North Korea’s nuclear program.

“Today’s sanctions action targets two key nodes of the DPRK’s weapons programs: its increasing reliance on illicit activities, including cybercrime, to generate revenue, and its ability to procure and transport goods in support of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs,” said Brian Nelson, Under Secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence.

Related: Deribit hackers move stolen Ether to Tornado Cash crypto mixer

Many in the crypto space have been involved in lawsuits against the U.S. Treasury following the sanctions against the mixer. A group of investors backed by U.S.-base crypto exchange Coinbase took legal action in September, claiming that Treasury’s sanctions of 44 USD Coin (USDC) and Ether (ETH) addresses connected to Tornado Cash were “not in accordance with law.” Crypto advocacy group Coin Center also filed a lawsuit against the government department in October, saying the mixer was a “privacy tool beyond the control of anyone.”

North Korea fired several missiles over northern Japan in the last month, though none impacted the island nation or directly caused any casualties. The United States has 7 bases for different military branches on Japan’s mainland.

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