Coin Center Files Lawsuit Against Treasury over Tornado Cash Sanctions

UTC by Tolu Ajiboye · 3 min read
Coin Center Files Lawsuit Against Treasury over Tornado Cash Sanctions
Photo: Unsplash

Coin Center is suing Treasury for “unlawfully” sanctioning Tornado Cash and implying that privacy-focused users are criminals.

Crypto think tank Coin Center has filed a lawsuit against the US Treasury over the latter’s Tornado Cash sanctions. According to Coin Center, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), overstepped its authority when it sanctioned the crypto mixer back in August.

Details On Coin Center Lawsuit Against US Treasury

In an October 12 filing in the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida, a group of plaintiffs made their grievances explicitly known. They include lawyers for Coin Center, crypto investor David Hoffman and software developer Patrick O’Sullivan. An unknown human-rights advocate known only as John Doe is also on the list of plaintiffs.

The co-plaintiffs argue that Tornado Cash is a “privacy tool beyond the control of anyone”. In addition, they state that the Ethereum-based crypto mixing tool completes functions that do not include ‘any property in which any foreign country or a national thereof has any interest.”

The plaintiffs also described Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and OFAC Director Andrea Gacki’ sanctions as “unprecedented and unlawful”. They explained:

“If a user doesn’t take proactive steps to protect his privacy, the ledger’s transparency allows strangers to track his private associations and stalk his intimate relations. It invites publicization of and retaliation for his private contributions to unpopular causes. And it allows anyone to see whether he has a lot of assets, which would put a target on his back.”

Furthermore, the aggrieved parties believe the Treasury is implying that Americans using Tornado Cash for privacy protection are criminals.

“Additionally, [American users’] receipt of any asset through Tornado Cash, even one from a stranger that they did not solicit, is a federal crime.”

Coin Center is also petitioning the court to overrule Treasury sanctions for several other reasons. One of these is donors who prefer to keep their transactions private. According to the leading crypto policy-focused non-profit organization, donors are less likely to contribute if Tornado Cash remains sanctioned.

Lawsuit Follows Similar Coinbase Agitation

The Coin Center lawsuit is the second that the Treasury Department has incurred for sanctioning Tornado Cash. Early last month, prominent American crypto exchange Coinbase (NASDAQ: COIN) also backed a similar lawsuit aimed at the government department. The plaintiffs of this lawsuit include several employees and associates of the leading digital currency exchange. At the time, Coinbase chief legal officer, Paul Grewal, noted that they “are not pursuing this claim lightly”. “We have a very healthy respect and good relationship with [OFAC]. In this particular instance, we had a difference of opinion,” added he.

In addition, Grewal also addressed the Treasury’s perceived reason for imposing the sanctions. “We think there are ways to draw a distinction here between individuals who are acting in accordance with the law and people who are violating the law and should be prosecuted,” said he.

The Treasury Department sanctioned Tornado Cash in August. The allegation was that several illicit actors used it to launder more than $7 billion in crypto. Among these was North Korea’s notorious hacker collective, the Lazarus Group.

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Tolu Ajiboye
Author Tolu Ajiboye

Tolu is a cryptocurrency and blockchain enthusiast based in Lagos. He likes to demystify crypto stories to the bare basics so that anyone anywhere can understand without too much background knowledge. When he's not neck-deep in crypto stories, Tolu enjoys music, loves to sing and is an avid movie lover.

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