Tornado cash case: DOJ Disputes Roman Storm’s Characterization of Tornado Cash Operations in New Filing

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Tornado Cash

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has recently challenged the characterization of Tornado Cash operations put forward by its developer, Roman Storm. Tornado Cash is a cryptocurrency mixer that has been accused of facilitating money laundering and violating sanctions laws. In response to Storm’s motion to dismiss the criminal charges against him, the DOJ filed a new document disputing his claims. This article will delve into the details of the case, highlighting the arguments made by both parties.

Background of the Case of Tornado Cash

Tornado Cash
tornado cash case: doj disputes roman storm's characterization of tornado cash operations in new filing

Roman Storm, along with fellow developer Roman Semenov, was charged by the DOJ with conspiring to commit money laundering, operating an unlicensed money transmitter, and violating sanctions laws. Tornado Cash, the platform they created, is a crypto mixing service designed to anonymize transactions. The DOJ alleges that the platform has been used by criminal entities, including North Korea’s Lazarus Group, to launder funds.

Storm’s defense team moved to dismiss the charges, arguing that Tornado Cash is not a custodial mixing service and does not meet the definition of a financial institution. They claimed that Storm had no control over the service and could not prevent hackers and fraudsters from using it. The defense contended that merely developing the code for the project does not make Storm responsible for money laundering.

DOJ’s Disputes

Department Of Justice, Usa, Doj Usa
tornado cash case: doj disputes roman storm's characterization of tornado cash operations in new filing

The DOJ’s filing challenges Storm’s characterization of Tornado Cash and presents evidence to support the charges against him. They argue that Tornado Cash was announced in 2019 as a mixer and is a comprehensive service that includes a website, user interface, smart contracts, and a network of relayers. The DOJ also disputes Storm’s assertions about how the Tornado Cash interface works and the level of control individual users have over the deposit and withdrawal process.

According to the DOJ, Storm and his co-founders maintained control over the mixer at least during the period mentioned in the charging document, which spans from 2019 to August 2022. The filing highlights screenshots and other evidence to counter Storm’s claims and asserts that the DOJ will introduce further evidence during the trial to prove their case.

The DOJ’s filing emphasizes that Storm cannot obtain dismissal of the indictment by making factual assertions about his own interpretation of Tornado Cash’s operations. The filing underscores that Storm’s intent or lack thereof when taking certain actions is irrelevant to the charges. The DOJ aims to demonstrate that Storm knowingly facilitated money laundering and violated sanctions laws through his involvement with Tornado Cash.

Arguments by Crypto Advocacy Groups

Coin Center, Roman Storm
tornado cash case: doj disputes roman storm's characterization of tornado cash operations in new filing

Coin Center, the Blockchain Association, and the DeFi Education Fund have each filed amicus briefs in support of Storm’s motion to dismiss the charges. These organizations contend that the government’s indictment contains factual and legal errors. They dispute the characterization of Tornado Cash’s service and argue against the charges brought against Storm and Semenov.

In their briefs, the advocacy groups highlight discrepancies in the government’s claims, particularly regarding the registration requirements with the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). They argue that Tornado Cash does not meet the criteria for being considered a money transmitter, as outlined by FinCEN. The groups assert that the government’s interpretation could hinder the development of anonymizing protocols and impose limitations on developers.

Coin Center’s brief also challenges the count of conspiracy to violate the International Economic Emergency Powers Act (IEEPA) and provides a First Amendment defense to the charges. They argue that Tornado Cash’s alleged sanctions violations should not hold up because the decisions regarding the software’s functionality were made long before any knowledge of the Lazarus Group’s activities.

Trial and Future Proceedings

Roman Storm is set to go on trial in September, while Roman Semenov remains at large. The outcome of the trial will determine the legal consequences for Storm and potentially impact the development of privacy-focused cryptocurrency services. The DOJ’s response to Storm’s motion to dismiss provides a glimpse into the arguments and evidence that will be presented in court.

As the case progresses, it will be crucial to monitor the implications it may have on the regulation of crypto mixing services and the broader cryptocurrency industry. The outcome of this trial could set a precedent for future cases involving cryptocurrencies and money laundering. It is a significant moment for the DOJ, the defendants, and the crypto community as a whole.

Conclusion

The dispute between Roman Storm and the DOJ regarding the characterization of Tornado Cash’s operations brings attention to the role of privacy-focused cryptocurrency services in facilitating money laundering. The DOJ’s filing disputes Storm’s claims and presents evidence to support the charges against him. The involvement of crypto advocacy groups adds another layer to the legal proceedings, highlighting the potential impact on the development of anonymizing protocols. The trial, set for September, will shed further light on this high-stakes case and its implications for the cryptocurrency industry.

Disclaimer:The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial or investment advice. It is always recommended to conduct thorough research and consult with a qualified financial advisor before deciding to sell cryptocurrency or engage in any cryptocurrency-related activities. Hash Herald is not responsible for any losses in markets.

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