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Investors Sue Treasury Department for Blacklisting Tornado Cash

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A group of cryptocurrency investors sued the Treasury Department on Thursday to block government sanctions barring Americans from Tornado Cash, a popular crypto platform used by criminals to launder cryptocurrencies. rice field.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court for the Western District of Texas, is being funded by cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase. collided With the federal government on increasingly stringent regulation of digital assets. The complaint alleges that the Treasury Department overstepped its legal authority by banning Tornado Cash.

The Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The agency announced last month that it would blacklist Tornado Cash to prevent hacking, money laundering and other cryptocurrency crimes. Industry groups were outraged, claiming the crackdown would cut off access to critical tools to protect privacy.

A so-called cryptocurrency mixer, Tornado Cash is designed to make it difficult for law enforcement officers and other observers to track cryptocurrency transactions. Whenever two people exchange digital currency, the transaction is recorded on a public ledger called a blockchain, which anyone can analyze and track the movement of funds. But when people route their cryptocurrencies through mixers, the money flows combine to obscure the origin of the money.

That makes it a useful tool for criminals. According to the Treasury Department, a North Korean-backed hacking group used Tornado Cash to launder more than $455 million this year. In total, the service has helped criminals launder her $7 billion worth of cryptocurrency, according to the agency.

Proponents of cryptocurrencies argue that mixers are neutral tools and are often used by people who just want to protect their privacy. One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is a cryptocurrency investor who used Tornado Cash to send money to support Ukraine’s war effort, hoping to maintain anonymity and avoid retaliation from the Russian government.

Unlike other cryptocurrency privacy services, Tornado Cash is not a traditional company run by management. This is a set of “smart contracts”, code that operates independently of any entity.

This difference lies at the heart of plaintiffs’ legal claims. They argue that the Treasury Department has no authority to restrict access to software programs.

Coinbase Chief Legal Officer Paul Grewal said: “If that disrespect is allowed, there could be all sorts of other ways that the law can be twisted and applied to cryptocurrencies in ways they shouldn’t be.”

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