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Tornado Cash Developer Sentenced to 64 Months in Prison on Charges of Laundering $1.2 Billion: Report

Alexey Pertsev’s lawyers have fourteen days to appeal the verdict.

Tornado Cash Developer Sentenced to 64 Months in Prison on Charges of Laundering $1.2 Billion: Report

Tornado Cash was co-founded by Pertsev and launched in 2019

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The cryptocurrency sector and crypto entrepreneurs have often come under legal scrutiny in recent years. Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years in prison in March over charges of fraud, followed by Binance founder Changpeng getting a four-month sentence earlier this month over the exchange’s anti-money laundering activities. Now, Alexey Pertsev, the developer of controversial crypto mixer Tornado Cash, has reportedly been found guilty of laundering unlawful funds via the platform.

According to a report from Crypto Potato, Pertsev, a resident of the Netherlands, now faces 64 months of jailtime. His lawyers have fourteen days to appeal the verdict. Pertsev, a Russian national, has been accused of laundering a total of $1.2 billion (roughly Rs. 18,370 crore).

Crypto mixers like Tordano Cash let people deposit crypto tokens into a common pool of cryptocurrencies. From this common pool, these deposited crypto tokens can be wired into crypto wallets shrouded in secrecy.

Since its launch in 2019, Tornado Cash has found popularity among crypto hackers, scammers, and thieves. In several instances, crypto criminals have used Tornado Cash to move illicit funds around without leaving a trail for authorities to trace.

In March this year, during Pertsev’s trial, prosecutors had blamed the developer for not doing enough to restrict crypto criminals from exploiting the Tornado Cash platform. Retaliating to these claims, Pertsev had reportedly argued that users coming to the platform intentionally wanted to remain anonymous and that he should not be punished for others using a platform he developed.

Many from the crypto community have spoken in Pertsev’s defence. One of them is Raphaël Bloch, co-founder of ‘The Big Whale’ publication. In a tweet published on May 14, Bloch said, “This decision is very dangerous because Pertsev only developed an open-source tool. Condemning him is like condemning a knife or car manufacturer whose users would have behaved in a wrong way.”

Crypto influencer Ryan Sean Adams, who has over 240,000 followers on X, called Pertsev’s sentencing the death of privacy in the European Union (EU).

Many have reacted to the development, calling it an example of centralised systems cracking down on the financial independence and privacy that the crypto sector offers.

In 2022, Tornado Cash had caught the attention of US authorities. The privacy mixer was reportedly accused of laundering illegal funds worth $7 billion (roughly Rs. 57,911 crore). The FBI even suspected that North Korean hackers had used Tornado Cash to run off with stolen cryptocurrencies worth $455 million (roughly Rs. 3,763 crore).

The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions against Tornado Cash in August 2022.

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