In a coordinated effort between the FBI and the Dutch Financial Intelligence and Investigation Service, the websites of a crypto mixer have been seized. The mixer was allegedly utilized by North Korean hackers and multiple cybercriminals to launder stolen funds and obscure transactions.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) declared on Wednesday that it had imposed sanctions on Sinbad, a Bitcoin mixer described as a “key money-laundering tool” for the Lazarus Group, a prolific hacking group believed to be linked to the North Korean government.
According to a statement by OFAC, the Sinbad crypto mixer processed “millions of dollars’ worth of virtual currency from Lazarus Group heists,” including proceeds from the significant 2022 hacks of Horizon Bridge and Axie Infinity, totaling $100 million and $625 million, respectively.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo stated, “Mixing services that enable criminal actors, such as the Lazarus Group, to launder stolen assets will face serious consequences.” He added, “The Treasury Department and its U.S. government partners stand ready to deploy all tools at their disposal to prevent virtual currency mixers, like Sinbad, from facilitating illicit activities.”
The FBI and the Department of Justice have not commented on the matter.
According to cryptocurrency monitoring firm Elliptic, the Lazarus Group was using Sinbad to launder cryptocurrency stolen from Atomic Wallet. Elliptic’s chief scientist and co-founder, Tom Robinson, revealed that Sinbad was also involved in laundering funds stolen in other high-profile hacks.
Following the seizure, Sinbad websites now display an FBI notice. The dark web site associated with Sinbad is also reportedly no longer operational.
The founder of Sinbad, known as Mehdi, stated in an interview with Wired that the platform did not engage in malicious activities and justified its presence on the clearnet.
Sinbad now joins a growing list of sanctioned crypto mixers, with the U.S. government targeting platforms like Tornado Cash and Blender.io. OFAC emphasized that Sinbad “indiscriminately facilitates illicit transactions.”