Today, the US Office of Foreign Assets Control has sanctioned the first bitcoin address in the history of this establishment. Generally, the OFAC identifies bank accounts all around the world to exert sanctions against individuals. But now they have identified two bitcoin addresses. These are linked to the exchange of thousands of bitcoin associated with the action of a malware.
First Bitcoin Address Sanctioned
Today, a historic moment action happened and it was kind of swept under the rug. The OFAC has identified and sanctioned two cryptocurrency addresses involved in the collection of ransoms for a malware program called SamSam. These addresses are likely related to two Iranian individuals that made many transactions using bitcoin. The press release states two individuals identified as Ali Khorashadizadeh and Mohammad Ghorbaniyan are related to these two bitcoin addresses.
The Iranian individuals used the bitcoin addresses more than 7,000 times to transact millions of dollars. Some of these operations collected ransom money from the action of the SamSam malware. This malware infects the software structures of hospitals, government offices and such. When the malware gets hold of admin rights for a determined institution then it prompts the officials to pay a ransom for the data collected. This ransom in bitcoin went to the designated wallet addresses.
Historic Moment for Bitcoin
The OFAC Press Release states that:
“To help convert the digital currency ransom payments into rial, Khorashadizadeh and Ghorbaniyan used the following two digital currency addresses: 149w62rY42aZBox8fGcmqNsXUzSStKeq8C and 1AjZPMsnmpdK2Rv9KQNfMurTXinscVro9V. Since 2013, Khorashadizadeh and Ghorbaniyan have used these two digital currency addresses to process over 7,000 transactions”
Identifying each bitcoin address related to the illicit transactions of cryptocurrency. More so, the same press release details the importance of this fact stating that:
“While OFAC routinely provides identifiers for designated persons, today’s action marks the first time OFAC is publicly attributing digital currency addresses to designated individuals.”
so, any person transacting with these digital addresses could be facing sanctions directly from the government of the United States. Also, the US government will seize their properties in US soil.
These actions seek to set a precedent. No matter the kind of currency, digital-based or a fiat associated one, actors are still liable for their actions. OFAC compliance obligations are still the same.
This is yet another advancement in the establishment of rules that relate to the use of bitcoin as a tool for moving money while sidestepping financial institutions in the process.