U.S. imposes sanctions on virtual currency mixer over N. Korea links

The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on virtual currency mixer Sinbad, saying it has played a key role in money laundering by a group affiliated with North Korea.

The Treasury Department said Sinbad has processed millions of dollars' worth of virtual currency stolen by the Lazarus Group, a state-sponsored North Korean hacking organization.

The sanctions mean that all Sinbad assets in the United States will be frozen and individuals that engage in certain transactions with the currency mixer may be subject to the measures, according to the department.

It said Sinbad's involvement has included serving as a tool for Lazarus to launder a significant portion of the $620 million worth of cryptocurrency the North Korean-linked group stole from the online game Axie Infinity in March 2022.

Sinbad is believed to be a successor to Blender, a virtual currency mixer that was targeted by the United States in May last year for providing similar services to Lazarus.

"The United States will not hesitate to use all tools at our disposal to disrupt (North Korea's) illicit activities that threaten international peace and security," Matthew Miller, a State Department spokesman, said in a statement.

North Korea, which has said it put its first spy satellite into orbit recently, is believed to be securing a huge amount of money for its regime and weapons development program through cryptocurrency theft.

© Kyodo News