- Dutch group CryptoCanal campaigns for support of 30-year-old co-founder of crypto mixer.
- Pertsev charged with money laundering in connection with North Korean sanctions violations.
- Case has outraged crypto community as an assault on financial privacy.
Advocates are urging crypto leaders to rally support for Alexey Pertsev, the developer at Tornado Cash, as he girds for his trial on money laundering charges next March in the Netherlands.
CryptoCanal, an Amsterdam-based crypto consultancy group, has called on the heads of protocols hacked by cybercriminals who laundered funds via Tornado Cash.
The organisation wants them to affirm they do not hold him responsible for the illicit use of Tornado Cash by the attackers who hit their platforms.
“Alex is currently being accused of laundering 36 hacks through Tornado Cash,” Eléonore Blanc, CryptoCanal’s founder, told DL News. “These protocols coming out and openly deflecting these charges is important.”
Message getting through
Her message is getting through. Nour Haridy, founder of crypto lending protocol Inverse Finance publicly stated his willingness to offer a signed statement.
Inverse Finance was hacked twice last year and lost $16 million stolen in total; the funds were laundered through Tornado Cash.
Haridy told DL News that Dutch authorities were making a mistake.
“Governments should prosecute and target anonymous attackers misusing Tornado, such as the Inverse Finance attackers who stole millions of people’s money, not the innocent and publicly known creators of Tornado,” Haridy said.
Last November, Dutch prosecutors charged Pertsev, 30, a Russian national residing in the Netherlands, with allegedly aiding hackers backed by North Korea to launder illicit funds through Tornado Cash, a so-called crypto mixer that conceals the identity of its users.
Pertsev has denied the charges and pleaded he is innocent.
His case became a cause célèbre in crypto circles while he was detained for nine months after his arrest in August 2022.
$1 billion in illicit funds
Pertsev developed Tornado Cash alongside Roman Storm and Roman Semenov. The US Department of Justice has accused Storm and Semenov of laundering over $1 billion in illicit funds and violating sanctions.
The US Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned Tornado Cash in 2022.
Many crypto supporters argue Pertsev is being prosecuted for simply creating an innovative service.
Haridy said the mixer was a useful tool for preserving user privacy.
“I support Alex because I was a user of Tornado Cash myself,” he said. “The fact that Tornado was used by malicious people doesn’t make it any less important for people like me.”
Blanc is hoping others will follow Haridy’s lead.
Door is open
“The community has been trying its best, and reaching out to whomever they are in contact with,” Blanc said. “Our door remains open if anyone is interested in coming forward to support Alexey.”
Some protocols that responded to DL News declined to comment on the matter but said they were in touch with CryptoCanal and Pertsev’s legal team.
Pertsev’s trial is due to commence on March 25, next year.