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GoFundMe cancels fundraiser for tornado cash founders facing US charges

gofundme-cancels-fundraiser-for-tornado-cash-founders-facing-us-charges
Edited by
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GoFundMe cancels fundraiser for tornado cash founders facing US charges

American crowdfunding platform GoFundMe has terminated a fundraising campaign aimed at raising legal defense funds for Roman Storm and Alexey Pertsev, co-founder and developer, respectively, of the cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash. 

The fundraiser was initiated following a Jan. 22 video by Storm, appealing for financial support in their legal battle against charges by U.S. authorities. The charges allege the facilitation of sanction evasion through their service. The platform cited a violation of their terms of service, specifically referencing potential exposure to harm or liability, as the reason for the fundraiser’s cancellation on Feb. 14.

Contributors, including Ryan Adams from Bankless Ventures, received refunds. Adams, highlighting the significance of uncensorable financial support for civil liberties, committed to redirecting his $10,000 donation back to Storm via cryptocurrency. GoFundMe assured that refunds would be processed within three to seven business days. 

Despite this setback, the campaign had managed to collect $30,000 towards a $1.5 million goal for legal expenses. Fundraising efforts have since moved to JuiceBox, a cryptocurrency funding platform, accumulating 316.75 Ether.

The decision to cancel the fundraiser has sparked discussions within the Tornado Cash community, with comparisons drawn to GoFundMe allowing similar campaigns in the past. This has raised questions about the consistency of the platform’s policy enforcement.

Storm and Pertsev are facing several federal charges, including conspiracy to commit money laundering, sanctions violations, and operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business. Despite these allegations, they maintain their innocence. Storm, released on a $2 million bond, is confined to specific U.S. states pending his trial.

The development follows NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden voicing his support for Storm, emphasizing the importance of privacy and fair legal defense in a social media post. This endorsement brings significant attention to the case, given Snowden’s advocacy for privacy rights.

Moreover, recent reports have illuminated Tornado Cash’s involvement in laundering over half a billion dollars in 2023, despite U.S. sanctions imposed in 2022. These sanctions aimed to curb the mixer’s operations, which have been linked to the North Korea-affiliated Lazarus Group, among others. Following these measures, Tornado Cash experienced an approximate 85% reduction in transaction volume, according to an October 2023 report by TRM Labs.