Tornado Cash Developer Roman Storm Files Motion to Dismiss ‘Flawed’ Charges

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As the legal saga surrounding Tornado Cash, Roman Storm, the developer and co-founder of the decentralized privacy tool continues, his lawyers have filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him, labeling the indictment as “fatally flawed.”

In a court document filed at the United States District Court Southern District of New York and signed by Brian E. Klein on behalf of Storm’s attorneys, they argue that the indictment should be dismissed on several grounds, including a First Amendment defense that writing code is protected by law as free speech.

Storm’s Attorney Pleads First Amendment Protections

Storm faces multiple charges including conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money-transmitting business. Storm’s lawyers in this new filing however argue that the prosecution’s attempt to criminalize the development of software is unprecedented and violates Storm’s First Amendment rights.

They contend that Storm cannot be held responsible for any illicit use of Tornado Cash, as there are no allegations that he conspired with bad actors who misused the software. However, at the time of their arrest, in the press release issued by the Justice Department (DOJ), U.S. Attorney Damian Williams alleged that Storm and his co-founder Roman Semenov in fact knew that they were helping hackers and fraudsters conceal the fruits of their crimes.

Challenging the “Money Transmitter Label” of Tornado Cash

The motion also challenges the characterization of Tornado Cash as a “money transmitting business,” maintaining that users never surrendered control over their coins nor paid any fees directly to Tornado Cash itself. The defense lawyers insist that Storm and his colleagues relinquished control over Tornado’s smart contracts in 2020. This according to them was months before the unproven criminal activities occurred.

The defense’s argument emphasizes the lack of any identified or alleged contact between Storm and any individuals engaged in criminal conduct. If upheld, their argument undermines the basis for the conspiracy charges against Storm. Experts are skeptical as the Tornado Cash had been sanctioned by the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) over the laundering of about $7 billion.

Community DeFi Rallies Support

Meanwhile, available on-chain data recently revealed that individuals who exploited the Heco Bridge last year have managed to launder more than $145 million worth of ether through Tornado Cash.

As the legal battle surrounding the arrested developers of Tornado Cash continues, it has elicited the attention of many within the decentralized finance (DeFi) community, as some have rallied behind Storm and his colleagues. A legal defense fund set up for Storm has amassed nearly $1.5 million in support of their cause.

 

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