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The CEO of a Singapore-based blockchain company has been named as the mastermind behind the 2016 attack on TheDAO.
To coincide with the 22 February release of her book The Cryptopians: Idealism, Greed, Lies, and the Making of the First Big Cryptocurrency Craze, author Laura Shin wrote a piece for Forbes, detailing the research behind the findings.
In the article, Shin named Toby Hoenisch as the man behind the hack which stole 31% of TheDAO’s total Ether stash.
The Austrian-born entrepreneur was the co-founder of defunct Singapore-based blockchain startup TenX and the co-founder and chief financial officer of Euro-pegged stablecoin project Mimo Capital.
In total, 3.64 million Ether was stolen from TheDAO. At the time, the amount accounted for 5% of all ETH created and was worth around US$60 million. 3.64 million ETH is now worth over US$12 billion. At ETH’s all-time-high of US$4,865.57, the stolen amount was worth US$17.7 billion.
The hack was so severe that it led to Ethereum being split into two to recoup the stolen funds: Ether and Ethereum Classic (ETC). At the time 3.4 ETC was worth US$3.2 million but is now worth over US$100 million.
Shin’s research pointed to a web of data and evidence based on tracked transactions as well as comments made by Hoenisch regarding TheDAO’s security flaws ahead of the hack.
The 36-year-old CEO was living in Singapore at the time of the hack.
Shin, Ethereum developer Alex van de Sande and crypto research firm Chainalysis alleged Hoenisch informed TheDAO of the flaw several weeks before the hack.
Privacy mixer Wasabi Wallet was used to transfer funds by the attacker to hide their activity. Chainalysis was able to uncover these transactions through a tool developed by them, which showed the stolen funds in an account allegedly managed by Hoenisch.
The cash-out transactions occurred mainly from 8am to 11pm Singapore time, according to Shin.
“Now that Chainalysis has disclosed with my book and article that it has the ability to de-mix Wasabi transactions, I imagine a number of people who have used that mixer for illicit purposes are feeling insecure today”, Shin said to Bloomberg.
“This may get them wondering if blockchain forensics will catch up to them later, even if they use the latest crypto obfuscation techniques today.”
Hoenisch as denied the allegations, responding in an email to Shin, “your statement and conclusion is factually inaccurate.”
TenX cofounder Julian Hosp said he was “getting goose bumps” upon hearing that his former partner could be behind the hack.
“For some weird reason, [Hoenisch] was quite well aware of what was happening…He understood more of the DAO hack when I asked him what had happened…than I had found on the internet or anywhere,” Hosp recalled.