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Tornado Cash Developer Alexey Pertsev Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

Tornado Cash Developer Alexey Pertsev Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

May 14, 2024

Tornado Cash Developer Alexey Pertsev Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

Alexey Pertsev, the co-founder of the Ethereum-based crypto mixer Tornado Cash, has been sentenced to 64 months in prison by a Dutch court. The panel of judges found Pertsev guilty on charges of money laundering.

During a two-day trial in March, the Russian national faced allegations that Tornado Cash facilitated the laundering of $1.2 billion in stolen cryptocurrency, with some funds traced back to hackers linked to North Korea. Prosecutors in the case claimed, "The management of Tornado Cash welcomed the bank robbers with open arms."

On Tuesday, the Dutch judges handed down a sentence of five years and four months to Pertsev, aligning with the term sought by the prosecution. In a statement translated from Dutch, the court claimed that Pertsev enabled a "shortcut for financing crimes and terrorism" and accused him of ignoring the misuse of Tornado Cash and failing to take any responsibility.

The prosecution argued that despite Tornado Cash’s decentralized nature, as a software running on the Ethereum blockchain, the developers, including Pertsev, had influence over it through the web interface used for most transactions. The prosecution contended that even though Pertsev implemented measures to separate legitimate funds from those of known criminal addresses, his efforts were deemed insufficient.

Pertsev's arrest, following the U.S. Treasury's sanctioning of Tornado Cash in August 2022 for facilitating anonymous transactions, has sparked debate and protests from privacy supporters. They argue that holding a developer accountable for the actions of users sets a dangerous precedent for the future of open-source and privacy-preserving software.


The court's ruling has reinforced concerns among experts that this could chill the development of open-source tools that enable anonymity on Bitcoin, as it could set a precedent for holding developers liable for user actions.

The trial of Roman Storm, Pertsev's co-developer, is scheduled for September in the U.S. on similar charges. While the Pertsev case does not establish a direct legal precedent, it previews the arguments likely to resurface.

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