Crypto Mixer Founders Charged by DOJ for Alleged $1 Billion Laundering Scheme

The founders of Tornado Cash, a prominent cryptocurrency mixer, have been indicted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on charges of money laundering and violating sanctions. The cryptocurrency mixing service had previously faced US sanctions last year for purportedly laundering over $7 billion in stolen funds. According to the DOJ, Tornado Cash is now accused of facilitating a massive $1 billion in money laundering activities, with an astonishing $455 million traced to a North Korean cybercrime group known as the Lazarus Group. The charges encompass a range of allegations, including “conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit sanctions violations, and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business.” Co-founder Roman Storm has been apprehended in Washington State, while the other co-founder, Roman Semenov, remains at large.


The US government is keen on sending a powerful message against the use of cryptocurrencies for illicit activities. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland emphasized, “These charges should serve as yet another warning to those who think they can turn to cryptocurrency to conceal their crimes and hide their identities, including cryptocurrency mixers: it does not matter how sophisticated your scheme is or how many attempts you have made to anonymize yourself, the Justice Department will find you and hold you accountable for your crimes.”


For those unfamiliar, a cryptocurrency mixer is a service designed to obscure the trail of funds from their origin to the recipient. Many blockchains, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, have transparent transaction records, making it challenging to maintain anonymity. Mixers enable individuals to obfuscate the flow of their money, whether for legitimate or unlawful purposes. Cryptocurrency analysis firm Chainalysis discovered that in 2022, crypto addresses associated with illicit activities employed mixers in nearly 10% of their transactions.

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