U.S. Charges Two Alleged Founders of Crypto Platform Tornado Cash With Money Laundering
U.S. prosecutors charged two individuals allegedly behind decentralized cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash, saying they conspired to launder illicit funds and to violate U.S. sanctions.
The indictment, filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York and unsealed Wednesday, charged Roman Storm and Roman Semenov in connection with the alleged creation, operation and promotion of Tornado Cash, a platform that enables users to exchange cryptocurrencies with relative anonymity.
Tornado Cash was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department last August. The U.S. accused it of laundering more than $1 billion in virtual currency, including hundreds of millions of dollars of hacking proceeds for the Lazarus Group, the sanctioned North Korean cybercrime organization.
Storm, a 34-year-old from Auburn, Wash., was arrested Wednesday in Washington state and will be presented
a federal court there. Semenov, a 35 year-old Russian national, remains at large and now also faces sanctions from the U.S. Treasury Department in connection with allegedly running Tornado Cash.
Brian Klein, who represents Storm in the case and a partner at law firm Waymaker, said Storm has been cooperating with the investigation since last year and contended that he wasn’t engaged in any criminal conduct.
“We are incredibly disappointed that the prosecutors chose to charge Mr. Storm because he helped develop software, and they did so based on a novel legal theory with dangerous implications for all software developers,” Klein said in a statement. “There is a lot more to this story that will come out at trial.”