Founders of Cryptocurrency Service Tornado Cash Face Money Laundering Charges Exceeding $1 Billion

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An indictment, recently disclosed to the public, has revealed that Roman Storm and Roman Semenov, leaders of the Russian-based cryptocurrency entity Tornado Cash, face allegations of laundering upwards of $1 billion in illegal funds.

The legal document claims that the two men, through Tornado Cash, systematically engaged in money laundering activities and contravened sanctions. Notably, it has emerged that a significant portion of these funds—amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars—may have been funneled to the Lazarus Group, a hacking conglomerate based in North Korea and rebuffed by the global community.

The charges levied against Storm and Semenov are multifaceted, encompassing conspiracy to launder money, flouting sanctions, and overseeing an unregulated money-transmitting operation. Storm was detained in Washington state earlier this week. However, as per the Justice Department, Semenov, a Russian national, is still evasive.

James Smith, who spearheads the FBI’s New York field office, emphasized the bureau’s commitment to capturing Semenov. “Our pursuit remains unwavering—whether on domestic soil or abroad,” Smith told CNBC.

Intriguingly, Alexey Pertsev, another co-founder, remains unscathed in this specific legal fray but faces scrutiny in Amsterdam over his association with Tornado Cash.

Damian Williams, US Attorney, critiqued the duo’s operation. “Despite promoting a veneer of cutting-edge privacy service, there’s evidence suggesting Storm and Semenov intentionally abetted cybercriminals in obscuring their illicit gains,” he remarked.

Brian Klein, counsel to Storm and affiliated with Waymaker LLP, voiced his concerns regarding the prosecution’s stance. “This case treads on new legal ground with broader implications for the software development community,” Klein stated, hinting at a more intricate narrative that will emerge during trial proceedings.

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