Circle freezes blacklisted Tornado Cash smart contract addresses

Regulation

According to crypto data aggregator Dune Analytics, on Monday, Circle, the issuer of the USD Coin stablecoin (USDC), froze over 75,000 USDC worth of funds linked to the 44 Tornado Cash addresses sanctioned by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) list. Tornado Cash is a decentralized application, or dApp, used to obfuscate the trail of previous cryptocurrency transactions on the Ethereum blockchain. 

All U.S. persons and entities are prohibited from interacting with the virtual currency mixer’s USDC and Ethereum smart contract addresses on the SDN list. Penalties for willful noncompliance can range from fines of $50,000 to $10,000,000 and 10 to 30 years imprisonment. An estimated $437 million worth of assets, consisting of stablecoins, Ethereum, and wrapped Bitcoin (wBTC), are currently held in Tornado Cash’s smart contract addresses. As a result, issuers are expected to take steps to prevent the transaction or redemption of such assets. 

Both the entities behind USDC and Tether can freeze their stablecoin transfers to and from Tornado Cash on the Ethereum smart contract level. Meanwhile, Palo Alto, California, based BitGo, would also, theoretically, need to restrict access to Tornado Cash to comply with such sanctions. One possible method is suspending the redemption of Tornado-Cash linked wBTC.

As told by DeFi educator @BowTiedIguana, the new Tornado Cash sanctions goes across the board for U.S. individuals and entities. Simple interactions such as Gitcoin donations, working for the project, running or downloading its software, visiting its website, and depositing/withdrawing from smart contracts could be interpreted as violations. 

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