April 22, 2024

Developer Argues Tornado Cash Isn’t Money Laundering in Bid to Dismiss Indictment

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A motion to dismiss the criminal indictment against Roman Storm, co-developer of Tornado Cash, asserts that the creation of the privacy-enhancing tool does not constitute money laundering. Storm, along with fellow developer Roman Semenov, faced charges last summer, including conspiring to commit money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitter.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) alleges that Tornado Cash facilitated the laundering of over $1 billion by entities like North Korea’s Lazarus group and has sanctioned the tool multiple times.

In the motion filed in the Southern District of New York, Storm’s legal team argues that he is simply a developer tasked with providing financial privacy to legitimate cryptocurrency users, rather than engaging in criminal activity. They assert that Tornado Cash is a set of non-custodial smart contracts that allow users complete ownership and control over their assets without reliance on intermediaries, disputing the notion that it functions as a mixer or service.

Furthermore, the motion challenges the DOJ’s portrayal of Storm’s involvement in Tornado Cash, asserting that he lacked the ability to control or influence its use by illicit entities like Lazarus.

The filing also contends that Tornado Cash does not meet the criteria of a financial institution, as users maintain control over their funds, and the protocol operates without charging any fees.

Storm’s legal team asserts that there was no agreement between the developers and alleged bad actors, rejecting the DOJ’s claim that the development of Tornado Cash equates to engaging in money laundering.

The motion to dismiss follows Storm’s legal team’s efforts to obtain evidence from the DOJ and suppress federal agents’ attempts to seize Storm’s cryptocurrency holdings through a search warrant.

Similar charges have been brought against Alexey Pertsev, another developer of Tornado Cash, who recently went on trial for money laundering charges in the Netherlands. The verdict is expected in May.

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