Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Tornado Cash Developer Allegedly Has Ties to Russian Security Outfit

The developer of controversial and now-sanctioned crypto mixer Tornado Cash, Alexey Pertsev allegedly has ties with the Russian security department FSB. Pertsev was named in an intelligence report recently issued by data and analytics firm Kharon. The report also claims that Pertsev owns PepperSec – the Delaware-based corporation that developed Tornado Cash software.

Pertsev and his part in the Tornado Cash saga

In early August, the U.S. Treasury Department placed an immediate sanction on Tornado Cash. At the time, the Treasury Department stated that there is evidence that the crypto mixer is being used to launder money for the notorious North Korean Lazarus Group.

Shortly after the ban, Alexey Pertsev was arrested by the Dutch authorities in the Netherlands – his country of residence. He was arrested for allegedly hiding criminal financial flow and his involvement in money laundering.

His arrest, however, received a wide backlash from the crypto community. But recent discoveries may suggest that there is more to the open-source software developer. According to national security experts, the public does not have all the details. This and the fact that Pertsev’s background paints an even more complicated picture.

Referencing the new Kharon report, Alex Zerden, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security said in part:

“This is pretty profound information that informs why the U.S. government and Dutch authorities have taken certain actions.”

His Previous Work

Kharon reports that, in 2017, Pertsev was still working as an information security specialist with Russian Digital Security OOO. And his role with OOO also included being a smart contracts developer.

Not long after, precisely in 2018, the U.S. Treasury Department linked Digital Security OOO to the FSB. The firm was allegedly rendering technical support to the FSB.

Overall, there seems to be some sort of justification for the recent actions of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). At least, regarding the designation of entities. However, as time goes on, more information will continue to surface as the bigger picture gradually unravels.

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