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Tether said that they haven’t received any specific request from law enforcement for freezing the addresses. The USDT issuer said that they refrain from unilaterally freezing secondary market addresses.
Three weeks after the US Treasury announced a ban on crypto mixer Tornado Cash, USDT stablecoin issuer Tether is still supporting addresses linked to Tornado Cash. Washington Post was the first to report this citing data from crypto intelligence firm Dune Analytics.
This move from Tether is unlike that from USDC-issuer Circle, which immediately blacklisted accounts linked to Tornado Cash post-sanctions. Commenting on the matter, Tether’s Chief Technology Officer, Paolo Ardoino, said that his company has yet to be approached by US officials. He further said that Tether has received no request from law enforcement to freeze transactions from Tornado Cash. Ardoino added that Tether “normally complies with requests from US authorities” and considers US Treasury Department sanctions “as part of its world-class compliance program”.
Later, Ther published an official blog post that they work very closely with law enforcement worldwide to assist in investigations. Tether said that if they receive a verified request from law enforcement to freeze a wallet address, they immediately comply with it. The blog post from Tether further adds:
“So far, OFAC has not indicated that a stablecoin issuer is expected to freeze secondary market addresses that are published on OFAC’s SDN List or that are operated by persons and entities that have been sanctioned by OFAC. Further, no US law enforcement agency or regulator has made such a request despite our near daily contact with US law enforcement whose requests always provide precise details”.
The Tornado Cash Sanctions
The sanctions on Tornado Cash have created a major uproar in the crypto community. The basic purpose behind creating this crypto mixer was to provide financial privacy to its users. However, law enforcement agencies in the U.S. believe that notorious players are using Tornado Cash for money laundering.
Justifying the move, the USDT issuer said that “unilaterally freezing secondary market addresses could be a highly disruptive and reckless move by Tether”. They also added that initiating a freeze without verified instructions from law enforcement could interfere with the ongoing investigation. Tether said that during the dealings with law enforcement they have been sometimes specifically asked not to freeze the addresses.
The US Sanctions led to the immediate arrest of Tornado Cash developer Alexey Pertsev. However, crypto advocates gathered in Dam Square, Amsterdam, to protest the arrest.