Tornado Cash Co-founder Files for Case Dismissal

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  • Roman Storm, co-founder of Tornado Cash, has contested federal charges in New York
  • Storm faces counts of conspiracy regarding money laundering and operating an unlicensed business
  • His defense rests on the notion of freedom of speech

Roman Storm, the developer and co-founder of sanctioned mixing service Tornado Cash, is contesting charges brought against him by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. Storm, indicted last August alongside Roman Semenov and Alexey Pertsev, faces counts of conspiracy related to money laundering and operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business. Storm’s defense team filed a motion to dismiss the charges, arguing that the indictment is “fatally flawed” and violates First Amendment rights. 

Storm Knew he was “Helping Hackers and Fraudsters”

Charges were unsealed against Semenov and Storm last Sugust, encompassing conspiracy to commit money laundering, sanctions violations, and operate an unlicensed money-transmitting business.

US attorney Damian Williams stated that Storm and Semenov “knew that they were helping hackers and fraudsters conceal the fruits of their crimes,” which makes the potential punishment all the more severe if they were found guilty.

Indictments are “Fatally Flawed”

Storm pleaded not guilty at a New York District Court the month after his arrest and was released on a $2 million bond with his passport seized. His lawyers have followed up this plea with a filing to dismiss the case entirely, arguing that the indictment is “fatally flawed” and violates First Amendment rights. They contend that writing code, such as that used in Tornado Cash, constitutes protected speech, as was initially seen in the Daniel Bernstein case.

The motion asserts that Storm cannot be held responsible for any illicit use of the software as there is no evidence he conspired with bad actors.

Storm’s lawyers also challenge the characterization of Tornado Cash as a money-transmitting business, highlighting that users retained control of their coins and did not pay fees to Tornado Cash. They argue that Storm and his colleagues relinquished control over Tornado’s smart contracts in 2020, months before the alleged criminal conduct.