Crypto Mixer Sanctioned by U.S. Treasury for North Korea Allegations, as FBI, Dutch and Finnish Police Seize Website

Sinbad was used to launder stolen crypto assets, according to the Treasury.

AccessTimeIconNov 29, 2023 at 3:48 p.m. UTC
Updated Jan 26, 2024 at 3:16 p.m. UTC
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The U.S. Treasury Department has blocked a crypto mixing service from the global dollar financial system on allegations it supported transactions tied to North Korea's infamous hacking group.

Sinbad's website was also seized by the FBI, Dutch Financial Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD), Openbaar Ministerie (the Netherlands' public prosecutor's office) and Finnish National Bureau of Investigation.

A Treasury press release described Sinbad as "a virtual currency mixer that serves as a key money-laundering tool of the OFAC-designated Lazarus Group, a state-sponsored cyber hacking group of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)."

Sinbad's website says it was seized by the FBI alongside the Dutch Financial Intelligence and Investigation Service and Finnish National Bureau of Investigation. (Sinbad.io)
Sinbad's website says it was seized by the FBI alongside the Dutch Financial Intelligence and Investigation Service and Finnish National Bureau of Investigation. (Sinbad.io)

Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, designated two Bitcoin addresses and two email addresses tied to Sinbad, banning all U.S. persons and anyone who transacts with the global financial system from interacting with the addresses in future.

According to a Blockchain.com block explorer, one address currently holds around 0.35 BTC (worth around $13,000) at the moment, but has received a hair over 15 BTC (worth around $570,000 at current prices) overall.

The other address, designated an alternate, holds around $67 worth of bitcoin.

Sinbad processed funds from the hacks of Horizon Bridge and Axie Infinity, the release said. It's also moved funds tied to "sanctions evasion, drug trafficking, the purchase of child sexual abuse materials and additional illicit sales on darknet marketplaces."

Sinbad is a relatively young mixer, crypto analytics service Chainalysis said, which began advertising in October 2022.

Fellow analytics service Elliptic claimed Sinbad was also used to move some of the $35 million stolen from Atomic Wallet earlier this year.

The Treasury Department's sanctions watchdog has previously designated Tornado Cash and other mixers as being bad actors for allowing illicit activity. Tornado Cash in particular saw similar North Korea allegations when OFAC sanctioned it last year.

A U.S. Department of Justice spokesperson referred CoinDesk to the FBI when asked for comment. The FBI did not immediately return an email.

UPDATE (Nov. 29, 2023, 16:06 UTC): Adds additional detail.

Edited by Nick Baker.


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Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.


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