One of the accused developers of the Ethereum mixer Tornado Cash has launched a call for help. He gets support from Edward Snowden.
Software Developer Accused of Money Laundering Pleads for Support Amidst Legal Battle
If you can help, please help. Privacy is not a crime. https://t.co/R4vauNLRB4— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 23, 2024
Roman Storm, a software developer facing charges of aiding and abetting money laundering, has made a plea for assistance in a video message. Storm, one of the two developers behind the now-banned crypto mixer Tornado Cash, recounted a pre-dawn FBI raid on his home, emphasizing the severity of the situation and the potential consequences for him and his family.
Storm, who holds both Russian and US citizenship, alongside co-developer Alexey Pertsev, faces lengthy prison sentences if convicted. Tornado Cash was a widely used mixer on the Ethereum blockchain, allowing users to anonymize transactions. The US Treasury Department’s supervisory authority, the Office of Foreign Assets Control, banned the service in August 2022, alleging its use by criminal organizations, including the North Korean hacker collective Lazarus, for money laundering.
The charges against the developers include conspiracy to launder money, sanctions violations, and operating an unlicensed money transfer business. Both developers were arrested in August 2022, with Pertsev detained in Amsterdam and Storm apprehended in the USA. Currently, they are free on bail, and the start date of the trial remains uncertain.
In a plea for support published on Roman Storm’s social media account, he urged assistance, emphasizing the significance of a robust defense not only for his family but also for the broader community of software developers and financial privacy advocates. The Justice DAO organization is raising funds for their legal defense under the campaign title “Open Source is not crime.”
The Tornado Cash ban has raised legal questions regarding the status of software programs like mixers under US law, asserting freedom of expression. The ongoing legal proceedings could set a precedent in determining whether the source code of a crypto mixer can be sanctioned.
The ban on Tornado Cash has also triggered discussions within the Ethereum community, with debates on censorship and compliance. Currently, 40 percent of transactions are deemed “OFAC non-compliant,” adding complexity to the evolving landscape of crypto regulations.