U.S Congressman Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) asks the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) to explain its sanctioning of privacy mixer Tornado Cash in an open letter he tweeted Tuesday.
OFAC added Tornado Cash to its sanction list in August. Allegations were brought up over its use by North Korean hacking group Lazarus. Lazarus used the site to launder millions of dollars worth of crypto proceeds stolen over the past three years.
In his letter Tuesday, Emmer says these sanctions looked like a “divergence from previous OFAC precedent.” Some of the addresses are towards smart contracts and open-source software, instead of any specific person or entity.
“OFAC’s sanctions on the virtual currency anonymizing software Tornado Cash in accordance with [an Executive Order] are the first sanctions issued against something other than an individual or entity determined ‘to be responsible for or complicit in’ malicious cyber-enabled activities that pose a threat on United States national security, foreign policy, economic health or financial stability,” he adds in the letter.
The sanctions punish both Tornado Cash developers and those who use the mixer for illicit activities. Notably, one of the developers of Tornado Cash, Alexey Pertsev, is currently under arrest in The Netherlands, according to his wife.
The Dutch agency that allegedly arrested Pertsev has also said that more punishments may be coming for Tornado Cash developers. Emmer’s letter echoes the concerns pointed out throughout the crypto industry about the sanctions.