Tornado Cash Cofounder Faces 5-Year Prison Time for Laundering $1.2 Billion in Crypto

By Thea Felicity

May 14, 2024 11:35 AM EDT

An illustration picture taken in London on May 8, 2022, shows a gold plated souvenir cryptocurrency Tether (USDT) coin arranged beside a screen displaying US dollar notes. Tether (USDT) is an Ethereum token known as a stablecoin that is pegged to the value of the US dollar, and is currently the largest stablecoin with a market value of USD 83 billion dollars. (Photo by Justin TALLIS / AFP)
(Photo : Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Alexey Pertsev, co-founder of the crypto-anonymizing tool Tornado Cash, has been found guilty of laundering $1.2 billion in cryptocurrency and sentenced to over five years in prison by a Dutch court. 

According to Wired, Pertsev, a Russian national, was accused of enabling criminals, including North Korean hackers, to launder stolen crypto through Tornado Cash, which masks the origin and destination of funds. 

The court stated that Pertsev created a "shortcut for financing crimes and terrorism" and failed to prevent illicit activities.

In his defense, Pertsev argued that Tornado Cash operates independently on the Ethereum blockchain. However, prosecutors countered that the Tornado co-founder and his team controlled the web interface used for most transactions, rendering their efforts to separate legitimate funds as "too little and too late." 

READ NEXT: Philippine SEC Cracks Down on Binance, Requesting Removal From Google and Apple App Stores

Who's Liable For Crypto Scams?

With this development, Alexey Pertsev's arrest and trial have triggered discussions among cryptocurrency and privacy communities about whether open-source software developers should be held accountable for how people use their creations. 

In particular, Pertsev's case is important because it discusses the legal and ethical issues around enabling money laundering under the claim of protecting user privacy. 

Ultimately, the court's outcome suggests that facilitating illegal activities in the name of privacy is not permissible. This is seen in a recent VCPost report stating that Canada is fining Binance for violating the anti-money laundering law, among other things. 

READ MORE: FBI Says Americans Lost a Record $12.5 Billion to Online Scams in 2023

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