Roman Storm, the co-founder of controversial cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash arrested in August, has reportedly pleaded not guilty to all charges related to money laundering and violations of United States sanctions.
According to a Sept. 6 thread on X (formerly Twitter) from Inner City Press, Storm pleaded not guilty before a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. He, along with alleged co-conspirator Roman Semenov, have been charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit sanctions violations and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money-transmitting business.
The charges were centered around Tornado Cash allegedly facilitating the efforts of the North Korean Lazarus Group bypassing U.S. sanctions, allowing the country’s regime to reportedly fund its nuclear program. Storm was released on a $2 million bond shortly after his arrest and is largely restricted from traveling outside certain regions of New York, New Jersey, Washington and California.
In August 2022, authorities in the Netherlands arrested Tornado Cash co-founder Alexey Pertsev for similar charges related to money laundering with the Lazarus Group. He was released from jail in April 2023 to await the start of his trial from his home while under electronic monitoring. At the time of publication, Semenov remained at large.
Sorry I was afk for a while, what did I miss?
— Alexey Pertsev (@alex_pertsev) April 28, 2023
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The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control added Tornado Cash to its Specially Designated Nationals list — sanctioned entities — in August 2022, prompting criticism from many in and out of the crypto space that the move was an overreach of the government department’s authority. In September 2022, several individuals filed a lawsuit against the move with the financial backing of crypto exchange Coinbase, but a judge sided with the U.S. Treasury in an August ruling.
For many in crypto, the allegations against the Tornado Cash co-founders are far from black and white issues. Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin publicly acknowledged using the mixer to send funds to those affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has been ongoing since February 2022.
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