Ethereum co-founder and alpha developer, Vitalik Buterin, has defended crypto mixing platform Tornado Cash amid government sanctions.
In recent weeks, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has been scrutinizing crypto mixer services such as Tornado Cash for possible links to criminal activity, leading to the U.S. Treasury instituting a ban on alleged laundering of “proceeds of cybercrimes,” among other reasons.
The U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has placed Tornado Cash on its sanctions list. This means that any crypto addresses associated with the platform are now blocked from receiving crypto from U.S.-based wallet services or exchanges. The OFAC has also warned that Americans who transact with sanctioned entities could face civil or criminal penalties.
Vitalik Buterin opined on the matter, defending the platform’s use case for legitimate contexts. According to the ETH co-founder, Tornado Cash is an example of a platform that can be used for legitimate use cases. This include donating to causes that are politically contentious.
Buterin, for one, admitted that he has used the platform to donate to Ukraine, which has been needing aid from the international community due to its present geopolitical conflict with Russia.
The U.S. Treasury alleges that the platform “has been used to launder more than $7 billion worth of virtual currency since its creation in 2019,” including some $455 million stolen by the infamous Lazarus Group, a group of threat actors involved in recent DeFi heists. Sources from the U.S. state intelligence service also point to the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) as the state sponsoring this said group.
Meanwhile, Tornado Cash has disclosed that its operations have also been affected since the ban, despite the sanctions only going for the U.S. jurisdiction.
According to its co-founder, Roman Semenov, his GitHub account has been suspended, with resources for the platform also being suspended. This includes the platform’s smart contract addresses linked to Circle (for stablecoins) and for the Infura RPC (for its Web3 gateways).