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Tornado Cash Users Appeal Court Ruling Backing Treasury Department’s Sanctions

David Pokima
Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: Pixabay

The plaintiffs in the case against the United States Treasury Department’s sanctions over the popular cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash are dissatisfied with the ruling of the court.

A group of five Tornado cash users has filed an appeal against the judgment of the US District Court that affirmed the Treasury Department’s decision to place it among the list of sanctioned firms.

According to a recent court filing, the five plaintiffs Joseph Van Loon, Tyler Almeida, Alexander Fisher, Preston Van Loon, Kevin Vitale, and Nate Welch argued to the US Court of Appeal for the Fifth Circuit that the Department went overboard in enforcing the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control against the crypto mixer. 

The plaintiffs based their arguments on the administration’s scope of enforcement and an alleged misinterpretation of certain terms. 

The district court erred by concluding that the Department satisfied three of the requirements for a designation under IEEPA and the North Ko- rea Act. First, the purported Tornado Cash “entity” as defined by the Department is not a “national” or “person,” because it is neither a natural person nor a group of individuals who have demonstrated an agreement to further a common purpose.” 

Court erred in law, plaintiffs allege 


The five plaintiffs through their legal representation argued that the district court incorrectly interpreted the description of an entity as all holders of the 1.5 million TORN tokens do not act in common purpose. 

The ownership tag was also rejected by the appellants as they claim that at least 20 smart contracts in the designation are immutable without owners. The trial court did not determine the statutory meaning of property but rather skipped to the Treasury Department’s application. 

Interests claimed by the defendants were also brought to the fore as the court ruled that token holders have beneficial interest in the smart contracts. The “entity” Tornado Cash holds no interest in the smart contracts at any level, they argued. 

But even if TORN holders had an interest in the mutable registry, that would not give them an interest in the wholly separate immutable smart contracts at issue in this case,” the filing reads. 

Lastly, they urged the court to overturn the court ruling because it would increase the powers of the agency and stretch the definition of entity, property, and interests.

Industry executives support “brave” users 


Within cryptocurrency circles, community members have hailed the efforts of the five plaintiffs to sue for a reversal of the Department’s ruling. Paul Grewal, Coinbase Chief Legal Officer supported the plaintiffs calling the actions extraordinary adding that the appellate would carefully consider all arguments.

Congress gave Treasury the power to prohibit transactions involving certain “property” in which a foreign “national” or sanctioned “person” has an interest. Treasury’s action here stretches that authority and those words beyond any recognition,” he added. 

Coin Center also filed a case against the Treasury Department which it lost in Florida and has appealed the decision.