- The US has put the Ethereum mixer Tornado Cash on a sanctions list.
- As a result, US citizens and US companies are no longer allowed to interact with the service.
- A similar measure was also taken against Blender.io seized.
Tornado Cash is the most popular and largest Ethereum mixer in the world. In principle, this is another smart contract that mixes transactions of its users in a similar way to a Bitcoin mixer. The result is a higher level of privacy, because the connection between transmitter and receiver can be obscured.
This circumstance is also often used by criminals, because it allows them to launder mostly stolen funds. This is a thorn in the side of the USA and so the US Treasury imposed sanctions against the service today. Similar to the case of Blender.io a whole series of Ethereum addresses ended up on a sanctions list.
As a result, US citizens and businesses are no longer allowed to interact with Tornado Cash. It is unclear whether the measure can be designed effectively at all.
Effects of the measure are controversial
The Ministry of Finance considers it proven that hackers such as the Lazarus group laundered large sums of money via Tornado Cash. The group is said to be linked to North Korea and to commit various cyber crimes on its behalf. Including multi-million dollar theft of cryptocurrencies.
Lazarus is said to have moved about $ 455 million via Tornado Cash. It is not at all clear what the sanctions should bring in concrete terms. Ultimately, the mixer could be set up with new addresses, which are then no longer on the list. In addition, no direct intervention is possible at all. Instead, you rather sanction your own citizens when they come into contact with the platform.
From a legal point of view, the measure may be necessary to further take action against the hackers and against the services they use. In reality, however, this has no effect and even the symbolic character is lost. Tornado Cash was designed as a DAO and is not subject to central control. Here the service differs from Bitcoin mixers, which usually have an operator that is more or less tangible. Chances are good that the measures will simply fizzle out due to the design of Tornado Cash.