Bitcoin

Tornado Cash Developer Found Guilty of Laundering $1.2 Billion in Illicit Funds

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Tornado Cash developer Alexey Pertsev has been found guilty of laundering $1.2 billion in illicit funds using the sanctioned crypto mixer.

Pertsev, a 31-year-old Russian living in the Netherlands, was sentenced to 64 months in prison by a Dutch court. His lawyers can appeal the decision within 14 days.

Tornado Cash Developer’s Conviction

The developer was initially imprisoned in the Netherlands in August 2022 when Tornado Cash was banned by the US government. The US Treasury claimed Tornado Cash was a critical tool for the notorious North Korean hacking group Lazarus. During Pertsev’s trial in March, prosecutors argued that he didn’t do enough to stop criminals from using Tornado Cash.

However, the defense argued that the prosecutors didn’t consider that Tornado Cash operates on open-source and automated smart contracts. Pertsev stated that it’s unfair to blame him for the actions of Tornado Cash users, who are intentionally anonymous and independent.

A similar sentiment was echoed by several industry commentators. Raphaël Bloch, co-founder of ‘The Big Whale,’ also highlighted the concern in his recent tweet in which he stated that the decision of Pertsev being found guilty of money laundering is dangerous, emphasizing that he merely developed an open-source tool.

“Tornado Cash dev Alexey Pertsev found guilty of money laundering by a Dutch court. This decision is very dangerous because Pertsev only developed an open source tool. Condemning him is like condemning a knife or car manufacturer whose users would have behaved in a wrong way.”

Furthermore, Tornado Cash is a non-custodial crypto mixing protocol, meaning that it never holds or controls the funds that are transferred via the protocol.

‘Sad Day For Privacy, Open-Source’

The outcome of this trial could set a precedent for future trials involving other Tornado Cash developers. Roman Storm and Roman Semenov, two other developers of the crypto mixer, are also accused of money laundering and violating sanctions in the US.

Meanwhile, Storm’s trial is scheduled for September, but Semenov has not been arrested yet. Former NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden had previously publicly endorsed Storm’s plea for support for his legal defense.

Blockfence’s Head of Security Research, Pablo Sabbatella, called it a “sad day for privacy, crypto, and open-source.”

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