Tornado Cash developer Roman Storm has reportedly pleaded ‘not guilty,’ denying all charges related to money laundering exceeding $1 billion, including allegations connected to a cybercrime group associated with the North Korean government and violations of United States sanctions.
Storm, who is a naturalized US citizen and the co-founder of the controversial coin mixer, was granted release on a $2 billion bond shortly after his arrest in August.
Dev Pleads Not Guilty
According to an update by Inner City Press, Storm pleaded “not guilty” before US District Judge Katherine Polk Failla in Manhattan after being charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit sanctions violations, and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money-transmitting business along with alleged co-conspirator and fellow developer, Roman Semenov, who was also indicted.
The charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
While the accusations against the Tornado Cash developers have attracted backlash from the authorities, the OFAC, on the other hand, continues to point to coin mixer’s role in facilitating the laundering of funds for criminal actors since its creation in 2019, including the obfuscation of hundreds of millions of dollars in digital asset stolen by North Korea’s notorious hackers, the Lazarus Group.
Furthermore, prosecutors had also stated that despite receiving numerous complaints from hacking victims, Tornado Cash neglected to put in place any know-your-customer (KYC) or anti-money-laundering (AML) initiatives.
Tornado Cash Co-Founders’ Fate Hangs in Limbo
Storm has been subject to significant travel restrictions following his bail that limit his movements primarily to specific areas within New York, New Jersey, Washington, and California. He will continue to be placed under house arrest at his residence in Washington and subject to routine drug testing. The co-founder is also prohibited from possessing firearms or making contact with any co-defendants, witnesses, or purported victims.
Semenov, on the other hand, continues to remain at large. He was recently added to the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) Specially Designated Nationals list of sanctioned companies and individuals.
The third co-founder of Tornado Cash, Alexey Pertsev, was arrested by Dutch authorities on charges similar to those associated with money laundering alongside the Lazarus Group. He was subsequently granted release in April 2023, pending the commencement of his trial, and is currently under electronic monitoring while awaiting trial from his residence.