A nuclear bomb just exploded in the middle of the cryptoverse

An astonishing thing happened in the world of crypto last week. So much so, that I didn’t believe it when I first saw it. It has received almost no attention in the popular press, but a hot, red apoplexy from anyone and everyone in crypto. It bodes ill for, well, a lot of people, and not only those who are connected to this field.
Here is what happened.
There is a corner of the US Treasury called the OFAC — the Office of Foreign Assets Control. These guys monitor global bad behaviour and mandate sanctions when appropriate. Big, serious sanctions.
What kind of bad behaviour? Terrorists, money launderers, tax criminals, narcotics, anti-US military belligerents. Countries, institutions, companies, individuals. Anyone who is deemed to be a threat to national security in any way.
You do not want to be on this list because it is almost impossible to get off it, unless, of course, you repent and mend your ways and become an ally, which rarely happens in real life. And even if you do, well, you still may never get off the list, because the US Treasury has a long memory.
If you go to its website, you will find lists of people and countries and organisations. You will find a list of “SDNs”’. Those are the “Specially Designated Nationals”. People or their legal entities. It is nearly 2,000 pages long. Tightly packed with names of people, tens of thousands of them in multiple columns, who will never be visiting the Grand Canyon. Then there is a whole slew of other lists, with other sanctioned entities, such as states.
And these lists end up all over the place — visa offices, entry points to the US, CIA, FBI, in the computers of intelligence agencies of US allies, in the supercomputers of the NSA.
This is not where it ends, because the law says that even if you are a decent law-abiding citizen and you unwittingly do business with any of these entities, you are breaking the law.
If a company is sanctioned for making military widgets, you don’t dare buy a toothbrush from its consumer health subsidiary. How much would you be breaking the law if you did that? Well, many Americans have gone to jail since OFAC was established in 1950.
In short, you want to spend your life well clear of OFAC and its long arms and long lists. It’s only trouble for the people on their ...