The Dutch government agency responsible for investigating financial crimes said it has arrested a developer suspected of being involved with crypto mixing service Tornado Cash in a move that has baffled some crypto and privacy advocates.
The Tax Information and Investigation Service said friday that the arrested 29-year-old man is suspected of being involved in “concealing criminal financial flows and facilitating money laundering” through the popular crypto mixing service.
“Multiple arrests are not out of the question,” the agency added. The agency said it had arrested the person in Amsterdam.
The move comes days after the US government sanctioned Tornado Cash — a service that allows users to mask their transactions by scrambling funds from different sources before sending them to their final destination — for its role in laundering cryptocurrency worth $500. billions of dollars through the platform.
Tornado Cash has been used to launder more than $7 billion in virtual currencies since it was created in 2019, the Treasury said. According to security firms, the platform was also used to launder money stolen earlier this year in the $600 million Ronin Bridge breach and a $100 million compromise from Harmony Bridge.
To date, Tornado Cash has laundered at least $1.5 billion in proceeds from crimes such as ransomware, hacks and fraud, analytics platform Elliptic told londonbusinessblog.com earlier this week.
Proponents of crypto and privacy have criticized the move by the Dutch agency, arguing that mainstream payment railways have been used for far more money laundering.
The action of the Dutch agency further illustrates the growing interest of authorities worldwide for so-called cryptomixers. The OFAC approved Blender, another crypto mixing service, earlier this year.
The Financial Advanced Cyber Team of the Dutch agency suspects that large-scale criminal money flows are hidden via Tornado Cash, including from (online) thefts of cryptocurrencies (so-called crypto hacks and scams). These include funds stolen through hacks by a group believed to be associated with North Korea. Tornado Cash was launched in 2019 and has since achieved revenues of at least $7 billion, according to FACT,” the statement said.
In the wake of the US sanction, a number of companies, including Github, Circle, Alchemy and Infura, have suspended or terminated accounts linked to Tornado Cash.
Tornado Cash’s token TORN fell to $13.7 from $16.5 on the news, exacerbating the drop this month. According to CoinMarketCap, the token has fallen by more than 50% in the past seven days.