Crypto Advocacy Groups Back Developer In Legal Fight

Prominent crypto groups have come forward to support Roman Storm, the developer of Tornado Cash, in his ongoing legal battle. Storm was arrested in August and faces three charges related to his role as a co-founder of the Ethereum privacy protocol.

Recently, Storm filed a motion to drop the charges against him. He argued that the government’s case shows a flawed understanding of Tornado Cash’s service and blockchain technology.

U.S. Claims Storm Functioned As An Unregistered Money Sender

Three major pro-crypto organizations – Coin Center, the Blockchain Association, and the DeFi Education Fund – have filed friend-of-the-court briefs backing Storm. While each brief was written and filed separately, they argued similarly against the government’s indictment.

The indictment alleges that Storm and his co-founder Roman Semenov ran an unlicensed money-transferring business by transferring funds for the public through Tornado Cash without registering with the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which led to a conspiracy charge.

However, the Blockchain Association’s brief highlights that FinCEN’s definitions contradict this claim. The brief states that intermediaries can only be considered money transmitters if they have total independent control over the assets, which is not true for Tornado Cash. It warns that upholding the government’s interpretation would essentially ban anonymizing protocols and make it impossible for developers to comply with anti-money laundering laws.

Coin Center’s brief challenges the charge of conspiring to violate economic sanctions laws. It argues this charge should not stand since decisions about Tornado Cash’s functions and release happened before any alleged sanction violations. The brief compares it to saying Linux developers confederated with a regime just by releasing software the regime later used.

DeFi Education Fund refutes Accusations related To The Storm

The DeFi Education Fund’s brief also disputes the charges. It warns that if Storm loses, it will give the government unlimited power to prosecute developers for code later misused by third parties for illegal activities. This could expose open-source developers to criminal liability for events beyond their control years or decades later.

So far, prosecutors have not responded to Storm’s motion to dismiss the charges.

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