Tornado Cash Founders Face Criminal Charges Over Laundering Activities


Two of the main players behind Tornado Cash, a cryptocurrency mixing service of Russian origin, face charges related to laundering over a billion dollars. The charges come as part of an extensive investigation that links the service to laundering for North Korea.

The Indictment Details

Roman Storm and Roman Semenov, Tornado Cash’s founders, are the subjects of a recent indictment, which accuses them of violations involving sanctions and massive money laundering activities. This laundering notably includes significant sums allegedly channeled on behalf of the Lazarus Group, a notorious North Korean hacking entity.

The charges laid out against them encompass conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy against sanction rules, and operating an unregulated money transfer service.

While Roman Storm has been taken into custody in Washington, Semenov remains elusive. Another co-founder, Alexey Pertsev, is set to stand trial in Amsterdam for his ties to the same platform.

Official Statements and Defense

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams stated that while Tornado Cash projected itself as a high-tech privacy solution, its operators were well-aware of their role in helping cybercriminals hide their ill-gotten gains.

Counteracting this claim, Brian Klein, Storm’s legal representative from Waymaker LLP, expressed their dismay over the charges. He emphasized Storm’s cooperation with the authorities since the beginning of the investigation and stressed Storm’s contention against any wrongdoing.


The Tornado Cash Controversy

Despite Tornado Cash’s promise to offer untraceable and anonymous financial operations, they allegedly sidestepped essential legal mandates like setting up anti-money laundering and know-your-customer mechanisms.

While some users opt for Tornado Cash as a privacy measure in the cryptocurrency world, the platform has come under scrutiny due to its connection with significant crypto thefts in 2022. Notably, incidents involving Ronin, associated with the Axie Infinity game, and U.S. startup Harmony, both reportedly have links to the Lazarus Group.

Research from Elliptic, a blockchain analytics company, suggests that Tornado Cash was instrumental in laundering about $1.5 billion originating from varied criminal activities. Moreover, the U.S. Treasury places the laundering figure at an astonishing $7 billion since the service’s inception in 2019.

Analytical Findings and Official Sanctions

Certain blockchain analysis tools have demonstrated the ability to trace funds through Tornado Cash, pinpointing the origin. For instance, Elliptic claims to have tracked stolen crypto from the Harmony incident to fresh ether wallets.

Following these revelations, the Treasury Department blacklisted Tornado Cash, emphasizing its determination to crack down on offenders who utilized the service for laundering vast sums of virtual currency since 2019.


The charges against Tornado Cash’s founders highlight the ongoing battle between cryptocurrency’s promise of privacy and the potential for misuse. As investigations continue and the trial progresses, further details will undoubtedly emerge, shedding light on one of the biggest controversies in the crypto world.