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DOJ Opposes Dismissal Motion for Tornado Cash Co-founder Amid Crypto-Mixing Crackdown

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has opposed a motion seeking to dismiss conspiracy and money laundering charges against Roman Semenov, co-founder of Tornado Cash.

The DOJ contended that the defense’s motion introduced disputed facts best left for jury consideration, arguing it was premature for early-stage motions.

In response, DOJ prosecutors scrutinized the alleged crimes attributed to Semenov.

They contested the defense’s portrayal of Tornado Cash, highlighting its inception in 2019 as a crypto mixer service, comprising a website, user interface, smart contracts, and a network of “relayers.”

Accusing Roman Storm and co-developer Roman Semenov of conspiring to commit money laundering, operating an unlicensed money transmitter, and violating sanctions, U.S. authorities alleged that Tornado Cash facilitated funds laundering for entities like North Korea’s Lazarus Group.

While Storm pleaded not guilty to all charges in September 2023 and was released on a $2 million bond, Semenov clarified his role, stating he contributed to code design but disclaimed accountability for its usage.

Semenov’s legal team emphasized in their motion to dismiss that Tornado Cash doesn’t function as a custodial mixing service and doesn’t meet the criteria of a “financial institution.”

They argued Storm lacked control over the service to prevent its misuse by entities like Lazarus Group.

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Prosecutors led by Damian Williams countered, holding Semenov accountable for operating the cryptocurrency mixer and accused him of enabling criminal anonymity.

They criticized Tornado Cash’s co-founders for failing to implement sufficient changes to exclude sanctioned addresses.

These developments coincide with the U.S. government’s heightened scrutiny of crypto-mixing services.

Recently, on April 24, the CEO and CTO of Samourai Wallet, another cryptocurrency mixer, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, each carrying a maximum sentence of 20 and five years, respectively.

Ki Young Ju, CEO of CryptoQuant, noted that crypto mixing services aren’t inherently criminal, responding to the arrests of Samourai Wallet’s founders.

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Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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