Tornado Cash sentence ‘radically unfair and unreasonable’ — Nym CEO

Tornado Cash sentence 'radically unfair and unreasonable' — Nym CEO

Harry Halpin, the CEO of Nym, a privacy-focused project, recently shared his thoughts on the sentence handed down to Tornado Cash developer Alexey Pertsev.

During an interview with Cointelegraph’s Jonathan DeYoung at Consensus 2024, Halpin characterized the sentence as “radically unfair and unreasonable” and provided these analogies:

“The punishment is not proportional either. Years in jail because some guy from North Korea used your software. I mean, people in North Korea use Linux. Are you going to put Richard Stallman in jail? You know, they probably use, you know, stolen copies of Windows. They’re going to put Bill Gates in jail? That’s crazy.”

The Nym CEO then pointed to WWII-era history as a prime example of why privacy must be protected in the 21st Century. Halpin explained that during the Second World War, the Netherlands saw most of its Jewish population exterminated by the Nazis due to sophisticated identity tracing systems not present in other European countries like France.

Such systems pale in comparison to our modern surveillance architecture, but in the 1930s such systems were considered cutting-edge and robust. Halpin expressed surprise that courts in the Netherlands, where Alexey Pertsev was sentenced, failed to grasp this lesson.


Pertsev was sentenced to 64 months behind bars for his role in developing the Tornado Cash software in May 2024, a ruling that Halpin urged Pertsev to appeal.

Related: Vitalik Buterin wallet contributes 30 ETH to Tornado Cash legal fund

The Tornado Cash case

In 2022, the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued sanctions against Tornado Cash for allegedly facilitating money laundering and providing an avenue for other sanctioned entities to sidestep U.S. sanctions. Federal law enforcement officials claimed that the service helped to launder over $1 billion in illicit funds.

The following year, a U.S. district court ruled that the sanctions were justified and the Southern District of New York announced charges against Tornado Cash developers Roman Storm and Roman Semenov.

The first page of the indictment against Storm and Semenov. Source: U.S. Department of Justice.

Both devs now face money laundering charges and sanctions violations in the United States, where their cases are pending.

At the time the charges were announced, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland stated: “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.”

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