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Tornado Cash Developer is in Jail But There Are Hints of a Comeback for the Crypto Mixer Regulators Hate

Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: iStock/scanrail

Tornado Cash developer Alexsey Pertsev remains in jail after facing money laundering charges for creating the mixing service, but a recent tweet by Ameen Soleimani, the co-founder of SpankChain and Reflex Labs, suggests the crypto mixing service could soon have its comeback despite the legal woes of its developer.

“I sincerely hope no one thought we were finished,” Soleimani said.

His tweet comprises an image which presents the forthcoming solution as Privacy Pools v0, a “sequel to Tornado.Cash” developed “by Ameen Soleimani” on “behalf of MolochDAO”. 

MolochDAO is one of the leading decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO). It was kicked off in early 2019 with the aim of helping manage and coordinate funds intended for Ethereum core development. That same year, ConsenSys founder Joseph Lubin announced that MolochDAO succeeded in raising more than USD 1.5 million worth of ETH from a number of major blockchain industry players, including ConsenSys, the Ethereum Foundation, and Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum’s co-founder.

Soleimani’s latest announcement has triggered a wave of predominantly positive reactions on the social media platform, with user Buhlaque wishing Ameen to “[k]eep fighting the good fight”, and user wlstrhppie advising the developer: “you better protect urself”. 

Last August, Pertsev, a Russian national who resides in the Netherlands, was arrested by Dutch authorities over alleged involvement in the Tornado Cash transaction mixing protocol days after the U.S. Department of Treasury imposed sanctions on the crypto mixing service. The developer who wrote Tornado Cash’s code is scheduled to attend a hearing next April.

The crypto mixing service created by Pertsev employs a plethora of techniques to conceal the origin of used crypto, a feature that has attracted the attention of regulators, and triggered accusations that Tornado Cash facilitated the laundering of millions of dollars by the Lazarus Group, a North Korea-backed hacking conglomerate.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control decided to sanction “Tornado Cash, which has been used to launder more than $7 billion worth of virtual currency since its creation in 2019. This includes over $455 million stolen by the Lazarus Group, a Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) state-sponsored hacking group that was sanctioned by the U.S. in 2019, in the largest known virtual currency heist to date,” the Treasury said in its Aug. 9 statement.

The Treasury claims crypto “mixers that assist criminals are a threat to U.S. national security” which indicates Tornado’s new reincarnation could also draw the agency’s ire.