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Tornado Cash Developer Faces Money Laundering Charges, To Remain in Jail Until At Least February

Ruholamin Haqshanas
Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: AdobeStock / Vladimir Kazakov

Tornado Cash developer Alexsey Pertsev will remain in jail for another three months after facing money laundering charges for the development of the mixing service. 

Pertsev, who has been held in detention for the past 100 days, was arrested by Dutch authorities over alleged involvement in the Tornado Cash crypto mixing service days after the U.S. Treasury sanctioned the crypto mixing service. 

Dutch public prosecutor Martine Boerlage announced money-laundering charges against Pertsev for the first time at the hearing on Tuesday. Pertsev is accused of facilitating the processing of dirty money by writing the Tornado Cash code.

According to a report by crypto outlet CoinDesk, which reportedly attended the hearing, Boerlage failed to realize that Tornado Cash is a decentralized protocol that neither Pertsev nor anyone else has control over. 

The judge reportedly claimed Tornado Cash is the same as PepperSec, a blockchain security company that Pertsev worked for alongside fellow developers Roman Semenov and Roman Storm.

Cheng said he was “very disappointed” with the decision outside the courtroom, adding that they tried to “explain as clearly as possible what the standpoints are from the defense.”

“It’s clear to us that these judges are not as familiar with the subject matter as they should be,” Cheng said. “At the moment, the case law regarding criminal activities is all about bitcoin mixers … It’s very important that the court understands that Tornado Cash is something different.”

As reported, the US Treasury added Tornado Cash to its Specially Designated Nationals list, effectively banning Americans from using this mixer. The Department claimed that the mixer “has been used to launder more than $7bn worth of virtual currency since its creation in 2019.” 

The Judge Views the Case a Money-Laundering Case

Boerlage claimed that the case against Pertsev was a “fairly clear” money-laundering case. He compared the money deposited into the mixing service with a bank clerk unquestioningly accepting a pile of 100 euro notes for deposit.

“If you peel everything off, what we have here is a fairly clear-cut money-laundering case,” Boerlage said, citing laws that forbid the concealment of funds’ origin and movement. “That’s exactly what a mixing service like Tornado Cash does for you.”

Many in Crypto Twitter have condemned the arrest of Pertsev, saying that it contradicts the ethos of free code. “They put a man in jail because bad people used his open-source code,” Ryan Sean Adams, founder of Mythos Capital and Bankless, wrote. “This cannot stand in any free society.”