The trial in the case of Alexey Pertsev will begin on March 26

Dutch prosecutors accuse Tornado Cash developer of laundering $1,2 billion

20.03.2024 - 11:35

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3 min

What’s new? The Dutch prosecutor’s office has charged Alexey Pertsev, the developer of crypto mixer Tornado Cash, with laundering $1,2 billion. He was arrested by local authorities back in August 2022, two days after the US Treasury Department placed Tornado Cash on a sanctions list for laundering funds stolen by Lazarus, a hacker group linked to DPRK authorities.

Material by DL News

What else is known? A week after Pertsev’s arrest, a rally in his defense was held in Amsterdam. Participants emphasized that the creator of the code is not responsible for its unfair use by third parties. Charles Hoskinson, co-founder of Ethereum and Cardano blockchains, along with other prominent representatives of the crypto industry, made a similar statement at the time, calling the service’s ban a dangerous precedent that threatens privacy.

In February 2023, Dutch prosecutors denied bail to Pertsev, believing he would try to flee or hide evidence. On April 26, he was transferred to house arrest, with a trial date set for March 26 this year.

In an indictment drafted ahead of the trial, prosecutors emphasize that writing code itself, as well as cryptocurrency mixing services, are not illegal, unlike mixing criminal assets and concealing their origin.

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In particular, the report mentions 36 illegal transactions conducted using Tornado Cash. Among them, there is the transfer of 175 ETH received by Lazarus as a result of the hack of the Ronin Bridge cross-chain protocol, which to this day remains the largest security incident in the crypto industry. As a result of the Lazarus attack, Ronin lost $625 million worth of cryptocurrencies on March 23, 2022.

Pertsev’s lawyer, Keith Cheng, noted that prosecutors did not specify exactly what actions his client committed to participate in the criminal offense. As early as last year, Cheng noted the lack of proper knowledge of the decentralized finance sphere among law enforcement officers, which significantly complicates the process.

It is noteworthy that Lazarus continues to use Tornado Cash, despite US sanctions and the arrest of the developer, as Elliptic analysts reported earlier this month.

Notably, Lazarus continues to use Tornado Cash despite U.S. sanctions and the developer's arrest, as Elliptic analysts reported earlier this month.

In August 2023, the US Justice Department accused Tornado Cash co-founders Roman Storm and Roman Semenov of facilitating the laundering of $1 billion. Storm was arrested in Washington state and later released on bail, Semenov remains at large.

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