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Tornado Cash developer Alexey Pertsev released pending trial

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After nine months in jail, Tornado Cash developer Alexey Pertsev will be released on Wednesday, April 26, pending his trial for facilitating digital asset-based money laundering.

Pertsev’s release was confirmed by Ethereum developer Eleonore Blanc who attended his hearing in Den Bosch. His wife later confirmed it.

“I’m happy to confirm Alex will be at home on April 26 on his birthday. He will be with an ankle monitor. But at home,” Pertsev’s wife, Ksenia Malik, told one news outlet.

Pertsev was arrested last August in Amsterdam after the U.S. Treasury issued sanctions against Tornado Cash, the coin mixer he helped create. The arrest was the first of its kind: Pertsev was not directly involved in any crime; instead, he was arrested for writing code for the coin mixer, which the authorities claim has facilitated money laundering.

Since his arrest, his legal team has made unsuccessful attempts to have him released from prison. The last attempt was last November when a judge rejected his “I just want to be able to spend Christmas with my wife” plea. Prosecutors successfully argued that the developer was a flight risk.

Pertsev has received support from several leaders in the digital asset industry and beyond. U.S. whistle-blower and privacy advocate Edward Snowden was among those calling for his release. He described the arrest of “the poor bastard who was decent enough to build this” as “deeply illiberal and profoundly authoritarian.”

While Snowden and other privacy advocates decry Pertsev’s arrest, Tornado Cash has been proven to launder millions of dollars of illicit digital assets. Tokens stolen in heists, including Axie Infinity’s $625 million hack and, most recently, the $200 million Euler Finance hack, have been laundered through the mixer.

A report by blockchain security firm SlowMist found that Tornado Cash was responsible for 75% of the funds laundered on Ethereum last year.

Pertsev’s defenders’ other argument is that he’s not directly involved in money laundering. Dutch prosecutors have dismissed this argument, comparing it to a cashier receiving a pile of 100 euro notes for a deposit without caring about their source.

“If you as a bank don’t know where the money is coming from and haven’t yet built in any mechanism to look at that, then there’s a considerable likelihood that your service is laundering money,” one prosecutor said.

In addition, Pertsev and other cofounders made operational decisions about Tornado Cash, fully aware they were facilitating crime. The prosecutors claimed to have acquired text messages between the founders discussing and advising their users on how to circumvent money laundering checks.

Follow CoinGeek’s Crypto Crime Cartel series, which delves into the stream of groups—from BitMEX to BinanceBitcoin.comBlockstreamShapeShiftCoinbaseRipple, EthereumFTX and Tether—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.

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