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The cryptocurrency community has rallied in support of the creators of cryptocurrency mixing service Tornado Cash, who are currently facing charges of money laundering, violating sanctions and operating an unlicensed money transfer service.

The arrests of Roman Storm, co-founder, and Alexey Pertsev, developer, served as the catalyst for the formation of JusticeDAO. This is a group dedicated to financing your legal defenses.

JusticeDAO managed to raise over 654 Ether, equivalent to $2.3 million at the time of collection. The “fundraising” took place through the “Free Alexey & Roman” campaign on the decentralized platform Juicebox. Furthermore, they raised 70 ETH additionally through their own page.

Collection dynamics

Juicebox took a transparent approach, providing a public spreadsheet to monitor the fund’s spending. From December 2023 to May 2024, the fund spent $1.39 million on legal fees involving Tornado Cash executives.

The fund is expected to spend an additional US$2.8 million over the next five months, in addition to US$400,000 on forensic investigations and additional fees by the end of 2024. In total, the forecast is almost US$3.35 millions in legal expenses.

Among the biggest supporters is Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, who made a generous contribution to the fund. He has previously stood out as a privacy advocate, encouraging improvements within the Ethereum community.

Proponents of the crypto community argue that creating tools to protect financial privacy, such as cryptocurrency mixers, does not constitute a crime. However, regulatory authorities disagree with this view.

Tornado Cash Case

Despite community support, Tornado Cash’s founders face serious accusations. In 2022, the US Treasury Department charged that Tornado Cash facilitated the laundering of more than $7 billion in assets over three years.

In August 2023, the FBI arrested Storm, while Pertsev was sanctioned by the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. Both accused of money laundering and violating sanctions.

Storm has pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering, operating an unlicensed money transfer service and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Lawyers in the case argued that Tornado Cash was made publicly available before sanctioned entities could use it. This way, Storm would have no control over who used it.

In May 2024, Pertsev was sentenced in the Netherlands to five years and four months in prison for laundering US$1.2 billion in illicit assets through the platform.

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