Tether, the company behind the world’s largest stablecoin, USDT +0.08% , announced yesterday that it would be ‘freezing’ its tokens in wallets belonging to sanctioned individuals on the United States’ Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) list of sanctioned individuals. In its announcement, Tether framed the move as a voluntary step to “proactively prevent any potential misuse of Tether tokens and enhance security measures.”
Blockchain data accessed through Etherscan shows that Tether did indeed freeze 161 Ethereum wallets yesterday, though 150 of those wallets currently hold no USDT tokens. It’s unclear if any of the wallets held USDT tokens at one point, or how many.
The remaining 11 wallets hold over 3.5 million USDT tokens, though nearly all of the tokens, 3.4 million, are held by just one address. Blockchain sleuth ZachXBT has linked the address to the recent hack of betting platform Stake. The wallet in question was active shortly before the freeze was enacted, with hundreds of transactions in the past week.
Of the remaining wallets with USDT tokens, two addresses hold around 20,000 tokens each, while a third holds nearly 60,000. The remainder hold smaller sums; one wallet holds merely 16 cents in frozen USDT. Two days ago, the day before the freeze, that wallet was used to move over 400,000 USDT received from THORChain RUNE +0.58% through two other wallets, at which point the funds become difficult to trace. Neither of the two wallets used to route the USDT appear to have been frozen by Tether.
It’s possible that the wallets contain USDT tokens on different chains, including Ethereum Layer 2 networks. A search of data from Polygonscan found two wallets with USDT on Polygon, though both wallets combined held just over 10,000 tokens, and one also holds USDT on Ethereum’s mainnet. A similar search of the sanctioned wallet list on Arbitrum and Optimism failed to return any wallets with USDT balances.
Tether did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Block.
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