Roman Storm, one of the three co-founders of the cryptocurrency mixing service Tornado Cash, is appealing to the crypto community for financial support to aid the impending legal defense against the US government.
Storm Appeals To The Web3 Community For Financial Help
Taking to X on January 22, Storm said 2024 would be definitive and that he is “scared.” However, the developer hopes the community cares “with a passion” and will donate to support the legal team defending against the US government’s allegations.
All donations will be channeled through JusticeDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) leading legal matters relating to Tornado Cash.
The call for assistance comes after Storm’s arrest by US authorities in 2023. This arrest occurred despite the developer’s willingness to cooperate in the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation into Tornado Cash’s alleged illicit usage and violation of US laws.
In August 2022, Dutch authorities arrested Alex Pertsev, a co-founder of Tornado Cash, and now Storm has also been arrested.
Both arrests followed sanctions imposed against Tornado Cash by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) over accusations of money laundering and sanctions violations. Notably, it marked the first time OFAC treated open-source software as an entity or a person that can be sanctioned.
In an indictment, the US DOJ accuse the two co-founders of “helping facilitate” the laundering of over $1 billion of funds received from criminal proceeds. The Justice Department maintains that some of the funds laundered were for North Korea enabled by Lazarus Group, a hacking cell reportedly funded by the state.
In a statement when the indictment was unsealed at the Southern District of New York, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said the charges leveled against the two co-founders served as a warning to elements who aim to conceal their criminal activities through crypto and mixers like Tornado Cash.
What Does It Mean For DeFi And Open-Source Protocols?
Considering the impact of this case, especially on developers contributing code to open-source and public protocols, including Bitcoin and even decentralized finance (DeFi) projects, crypto advocates argue their arrests were an overreach. Most importantly, in their arguments, advocates assert that the US DOJ and OFAC are setting a precedent that will threaten coders’ freedom to publish software.
Thus far, as Ryan Adams communicated, Bankless has donated $10,000 and calls on open source protocols and supporters to donate more. Alex Pertsev’s trial begins in late March, while Storm’s will start in early September 2024.
Feature image from Canva, chart from TradingView