A 29-year-old man has been arrested in Amsterdam for suspected involvement in the development of Tornado Cash – a crypto mixer service banned earlier this month by the US Treasury Department for its role in laundering money from large-scale hacking operations. including those associated with state-sponsored North Korean cyber gangs.
The news of the arrest was announced by the Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service of the Netherlands (FIOD), which investigates financial crime in the country. The FIOD said the person is “suspected of involvement in concealing criminal money flows and facilitating money laundering”, and that “multiple arrests are not ruled out” as the investigation into Tornado Cash continues. The suspect is due to appear in court today.
The arrest in Amsterdam marks an escalation in the crackdown by global authorities against Tornado Cash and other crypto mixers. Such services work by pooling the funds of contributors and then redistributing them, making it harder for law enforcement to track the digital breadcrumbs associated with cryptocurrency transactions.
The argument of institutions such as the United States Department of the Treasury (DOT) is that these companies have not addressed their use as illegal money laundering services. Earlier this year, the DOT added another crypto mixer, Blender.io, to its sanctions list after the service was also used by North Korean hacking groups.
The response from proponents is that crypto mixers provide an extra layer of privacy when conducting transactions, thus fulfilling an important aspect of cryptocurrency idealism.
In response to the sanctions against Tornado Cash, for example, crypto advocacy group Coin Center said the US government was wrongly targeting a “tool that is neutral in nature and can be used for good or bad like any other technology.”
“It is not a specific bad actor that is being sanctioned, but instead it is all Americans who may want to use this automated tool to protect their own privacy,” Coin Center’s Jerry Brito and Peter Van Valkenburgh wrote in a statement. blog post.
On Twitter, one user suggested that making donations to Ukraine was an example of a financial transaction that you might want to hide from authorities for the safety of both sender and recipient. Commenting on this post, Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum said: he had used Tornado Cash “to donate to this exact cause.”
I will express myself as someone who has used TC to donate to this exact cause.
— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) August 9, 2022