Market Analysis Report (09 Aug 2022)

The U.S. Treasury Department has banned all Americans from using decentralized cryptocurrency mixing service Tornado Cash by sanctioning addresses associated with it, saying that it “launders the proceeds of cybercrimes.”

A watchdog agency tasked with preventing sanctions violations, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), has added Tornado Cash to its Specially Designated Nationals list, a running tally of blacklisted entities and cryptocurrency addresses, effectively banning Americans from interacting with addresses associated with the protocol.

The Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, was quoted saying:

“Despite public assurances otherwise, Tornado Cash has repeatedly failed to impose effective controls designed to stop it from laundering funds for malicious cyber actors on a regular basis and without basic measures to address its risks.”

Crypto mixing services are used to obscure trails of funds by blending tokens in a pool comprised of the assets of various entities. While there are legitimate uses for these services, including protecting financial privacy, the government said it fosters illicit activity.

Tornado Cash was used in some high-profile cases this year, including the $615 million hack of the network used by Axie Infinity, Ronin, and a $100 million attack on U.S. startup Harmony. Both attacks were linked to North Korean state-backed hackers, the Lazarus Group.