Vitalik Buterin donates 30 ETH to support the legal expenses of the Tornado Cash case

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Few hours ago, the well-known co-founder of Ethereum Vitalik Buterin offered his support to the Tornado Cash cause, donating 30 ETH (111,000 dollars) to a fund for the legal assistance of the platform developers Alexey Pertsev and Roman Storm, both accused of money laundering.

Vitalik, like many other users passionate about decentralized finance, supports the concept of “open source” and considers Tornado Cash as a mere tool for privacy, despite it being used by unreliable actors to mix over 1 billion dollars in cryptocurrencies.

Tutti i dettagli della vicenda di seguito.

The story of Tornado Cash and the arrest of its founders

Tornado cash is a mixing service born in 2019 that operates on EVM-compatible blockchains such as Ethereum, Arbitrum, Optimism, Avalanche, Gnosis chain, and Binance smart chain, capable of offering maximum privacy to those who use it.

Its operation is very simple: users can deposit predefined amounts of ETH, DAI, cDAI, and WBTC (e.g., 0.1 ETH, 1ETH, 10ETH, or 100ETH) on the platform, mixing their funds with those of other individuals, and withdrawing the same coins deposited from an address different from the deposit one, thus making the last entity that received the payment “anonymous.”

In 2022, Tornado Cash was sanctioned by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the United States Department of the Treasury (OFAC) which accused it of facilitating money laundering and an alleged involvement with the North Korean hacker group Lazarus.

In particular, it is believed that the same group of hackers would have laundered about 455 million dollars on the platform, stolen with the exploit of the bridge of Axie Infinity in March of the same year.

From that moment on, several CEX, decentralized services, and infrastructural providers have blocked and added to the blacklist all addresses that have made or received transactions at Tornado Cash. The protocol, however, remains still active and usable (under custom RPC, see Chainlist.org

tornado cash vitalik buterin

Shortly after the OFAC sanctions, the founders of Tornado Cash were arrested and accused of violating the anti-money laundering rules of several countries.

First, Alexey Pertsev was arrested in August 2022 and sentenced to five years in prison by a Dutch court, then received confirmation of the sentence to 64 months a few days ago.

Immediately after the initial conviction of Pertsev, the attacks on the other two founders/developers Roman Storm and Roman Semenov arrived, both prosecuted by the United States Department of Justice.

In detail, Storm has been accused of having “knowingly facilitated” the money laundering of over 1 billion dollars, proceeds from illicit activities, while 8 Ethereum addresses linked to Semenov have been blocked for being involved in sanction evasion practices.

Questo tipo di repressione da parte delle forze dell’ordine per un servizio che sulla carta non provenie niente che di più che da un codice open source, sfociato nell’arresto dei fondatori della stessa piattaforma, viene da circa 2 anni criticata aspramente dall’industria delle criptovalute e dai sostenitori del concetto di privacy come Vitalik Buterin.

This is one of the first cases in the history of humanity where software developers are arrested and taken simply for writing code, regardless of the use made of the developed product.

The same crypto community that supports the Tornado Cash case, is asking in a similar case for the release of Ross Ulbricht, the creator behind the infamous Silk Road market, who is serving two consecutive life sentences without parole for non-violent offenses.

A tal proposito, il candidato presidente USA Donald Trump ha promesso di dare la grazie ad Ulbricht se verrà eletto nelle prossime elezioni di novembre 2024.

Maybe Trump himself will be able to free the founders of Tornado Cash as well, with Pertsev  who has appealed his conviction, filing an appeal with the Court of Appeal of S-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands and with Roman Storm who is awaiting his trial expected in September.

Vitalik Buterin supports open source and donates 30 ETH to the legal defense fund for the creators of Tornado Cash

Vitalik Buterin, in addition to publicly defending the founders of Tornado Cash, who are only responsible for writing some lines of code, has recently committed to funding part of their legal defense.

Just a few hours ago, in fact, the magnate of the Ethereum Foundation donated as much as 30 ETH, equivalent to about 111,000 dollars, on the cryptographic crowdfunding platform Juicebox as support for the legal assistance of developers Alexey Pertsev and Roman Storm.

Source: https://etherscan.io/tx/0x424872acdc3f28523b444a3e855f94fb82c9c45aff2888eb57bae04a230962c8

Obviously Vitalik is not the only one to have participated in the crowdfunding, showing solidarity with the two developers of Tornado Cash in their legal battle to prove their innocence.

In total so far the fund on Juicebox has raised a whopping 592.95 ETH, for a total of over 2.2 million dollars across 888 different donations. The amount raised has increased by 7% in the last 7 days, with an acceleration of flows recorded after the gift of 30 ETH from Vitalik.

Other prominent figures have taken part in the initiative, such as the American computer scientist and activist naturalized Russian Edward Joseph Snowden, known for revealing to the public details of various top-secret mass surveillance programs of the US and British governments.

Quest’ultimo effettuato diverse donazioni da 1 ETH ciascuna.

There are entities, like this one, that have donated up to 77 ETH.

Source: https://juicebox.money/@free-pertsev-and-storm

In 2022, in a similar case Buterin donated 10 ETH (valued at $30,980 at that time) to AssangeDAO, a legal fund on Juicebox to support Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks.

It is clear that the co-founder of Ethereum is a staunch supporter of open source and that it is his personal (and moral) interest to defend this human right from the clutches of US regulators.