Tornado Cash Developer Set to be Released

Alex Pertsev, the developer behind the popular crypto mixing service Tornado Cash, is set to be released from prison after nearly nine months of detention. Pertsev was arrested by Dutch authorities in August last year on suspicion of being involved in money laundering through Tornado Cash, which had dozens of its addresses placed on the OFAC sanctions list by the United States Treasury Department.

The news of Pertsev’s release under surveillance was met with rejoicing in the crypto community, as it allows him to prepare his defense fully. His partner, who has been advocating for his release, expressed regret for the wasted time that he spent in prison, which had a powerful effect on both of their lives.

Pertsev’s case centers around Tornado Cash, a crypto mixing service that makes transactions anonymous and difficult to trace. Crypto mixers such as Tornado Cash are often used to obfuscate the origin of crypto transactions. These platforms mix one cryptocurrency transaction with others and send them to different wallet addresses, making it challenging for authorities to track the flow of funds.

Prosecutors argue that Pertsev acted as a central figure in Tornado Cash’s operation, making him an essential target in the investigation into money laundering. However, Pertsev’s legal team has maintained that he did not do anything wrong and that the platform was merely providing a privacy-enhancing service.

In November, a Dutch court denied Pertsev’s plea to be released under surveillance, citing concerns that he posed a flight risk. His bail was denied again in February. However, with the latest decision to release him under surveillance, Pertsev will now be able to walk around and work on his defense, which was virtually impossible while detained.

The Tornado Cash platform was one of the most popular mixing services before the sanctions were imposed, highlighting the growing trend of crypto users seeking greater privacy and anonymity in their transactions. The case involving Pertsev will be closely watched by those interested in the legal implications of crypto mixing services and their role in facilitating money laundering.

In conclusion, Pertsev’s upcoming release from prison has been welcomed by the crypto community, but his case is far from over. As the use of crypto mixing services continues to gain popularity, regulatory authorities will need to grapple with the legal implications of such platforms and their role in enabling financial crimes.


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Inside the blockchain developer’s mind: Koinos approaches testnet

Cointelegraph is following the development of an entirely new blockchain from inception to mainnet and beyond through its series, Inside the Blockchain Developer’s Mind. In Part Four, Andrew Levine of Koinos Group discusses some of the challenges the team has faced since identifying the key issues they intend to solve.

Earlier in this series I outlined three of the “crises” that are holding back blockchain adoption; upgradeability, scalability, and governance.

In this post I will summarize the solutions we’ve developed to these problems, which we will be showcasing in the upcoming Koinos testnet planned for the second quarter of 2021.

Since that series Koinos Group has successfully launched a token, KOIN, as a proof of work mineable token on Ethereum. By using proof of work to distribute the initial token supply we were able make the token accessible to early adopters and forgo an ICO.

Assessing the ICO model

ICOs and similar token sale tools, while not without their use cases, have created their own crisis within the space by misaligning incentives before development even begins. The issue is not with the ICO as a tool, but what happens when a team is financially rewarded before they have even shipped a product.

While so many projects have followed in the footsteps of Bitcoin, it’s surprising how few have replicated arguably the most successful aspect of its launch; a token distribution exclusively through proof of work.

The benefit of this approach is that it ensures with algorithmic certainty that the people behind the blockchain have no advantage in acquiring the token. In short, everyone, no matter who they are, has to make a financial sacrifice in order to acquire that token and the scale of that sacrifice is determined by some neutral third party. In the case of proof of work, that neutral third party is the manufacturer of hardware.

For Koinos Group, that means we had to spend money to acquire our token just like everyone else. In fact, because we have to spend most of our time developing the product, we are even at a disadvantage relative to professional miners. So we have to keep working to add value to the protocol if we’d like to get a return on our investment.

Proof of work algorithms are not without their problems, but we mitigated those in a few ways.

  • First, the mainnet will be governed by a totally different consensus algorithm that won’t be proof of work or proof of stake, so any attempt to develop an ASIC would be a waste of resources.
  • Second, we made the algorithm GPU resistant.
  • Third, we released this token long before releasing our mainnet. In fact, we released the token long before we had even completed development of our framework. Without a functional product, this token becomes a way for people who believe in our team and who share our vision for a fee-less smart contract platform to acquire the token at a reasonable cost.

Rapid rate of improvement

Part of what makes this launch strategy work is the innovative property set of Koinos. We built Koinos totally from scratch, not around any single feature like transactions per second or sharding, but with the goal of creating a blockchain that would improve at a much more rapid rate than any other blockchain out there.

In our experience developing the Steem blockchain, the need to execute hard forks was the single biggest factor holding back progress. If we wanted to eliminate that bottleneck, we reasoned, moving as much of the system code as possible into smart contracts that could be upgraded in-band would do the trick.

That’s why the Koinos blockchain framework contains only the most basic blockchain features (called “thunks”) like contract input/input, getting parameters, and writing to the database. All of the more complex features that people are more familiar with (consensus algorithm, accounts, resource management, governance, etc.) have been moved into modular WASM smart contracts running in the virtual machine that can be upgraded without a hard fork.

Because all behaviors are now coded in distinct “modules” that can be individually “upgraded” we call this feature modular upgradeability.

As a result of modular upgradeability, any behavior can be added to the blockchain without a hard fork because individual upgrades can be distributed in blocks and transactions that are pushed to the network much like an operating system patch, but with the added benefit of an on-chain record of the entire upgrade path.

By moving nearly all of the system code of the blockchain to smart contract modules that can be upgraded without a hard fork we have made Koinos into a blockchain that derives its strength not from the features it is born with, but based on its ability to rapidly acquire new and better features faster than anything else out there.

This is why we call Koinos the first blockchain capable of evolution.


Modular upgradeability was just the first major technical innovation that we developed to make Koinos less monolithic and an order of magnitude more upgradeable. Just like there is code that does not need to be implemented natively (in the blockchain itself) but that can be implemented as smart contracts (most of it in fact), there is plenty of code that does not need to be implemented either natively or as smart contracts and can instead be implemented as microservices.

Microservice architectures have many benefits which is why this has become the industry standard for modern software development, but one major benefit is scalability because individual services can be scaled up without having to scale up the entire system. This can dramatically reduce the cost of running a network while improving both the speed and quality of improvements to that network. As a result of historical accidents, blockchain stacks appear to be the last to adopt this new standard as Koinos will be the first blockchain built on a microservice architecture.

This creates amazing new opportunities for developers who will be able to build application specific microservices for Koinos that will help them run their nodes, and their applications, more efficiently; and as a consequence deliver better user experiences. Best of all, this will make Koinos node operation more accessible, thereby improving decentralization, and enabling the network as a whole to run more efficiently so that developers and their end-users can get more out of their decentralized applications.

Multi-language support

Another benefit of a microservice architecture is that individual microservices (basically small programs) can be written in the best (fastest, most secure, best libraries, etc.) programming language for the job, a capability we also wanted to offer for smart contract developers. But in order to take advantage of this trait we needed to develop a way for these small programs written in different languages to “talk” to one another in a way that conformed to the unique needs of a decentralized network. To solve this problem we created a cross-language serialization framework named Koinos Types.

Koinos Types is like the Rosetta Stone for blockchain data structures. It allows programs written in different languages to talk to one another in a simple and unified way by giving them access to the same objects (the “building blocks” of modern programming languages). Koinos Types allows for the interpretation of Koinos (i.e. blockchain) data structures in practically any programming language which will be extremely useful for the development of blockchain-related microservices, clients, and smart contracts.

Koinos Types solves a number of problems. It helps us add multi-language support to Koinos more generally (including for smart contracts), it enables microservices to communicate with one another, and it makes it far easier to develop and update client-libraries. While modular upgradeability and the microservices architecture alone make Koinos far more upgradeable than any other blockchain, Koinos Types takes that upgradeability to another level. That’s why we were so excited to make Koinos Types the first piece of Koinos that we open sourced.

As you can see, ensuring that Koinos can improve at a more rapid rate than any other blockchain isn’t about any one feature.

  • It’s about getting the incentives right from the beginning.
  • It’s about ensuring that the blockchain has modular upgradeability.
  • It’s about modularizing the very architecture itself as microservices.
  • And it’s about making sure that developers operating at every level of the stack (not just smart contracts) are able to use the programming languages they already know and love.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

Andrew Levine is the CEO of Koinos Group, where he and the former development team behind the Steem blockchain build blockchain-based solutions that empower people to take ownership and control over their digital selves. Their foundational product is Koinos, a high-performance blockchain built on an entirely new framework architected to give developers the features they need in order to deliver the user experiences necessary to spread blockchain adoption to the masses.


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Ethereum Developer Virgil Griffith’s Court Case May Start in 2021

A US court trial involving former Ethereum Foundation developer Virgil Griffith has a tentitive court date of September 2021, as per court documents—pending any changes or delays. The case was one of the first sanctions involving a US citizen and cryptocurrencies.

“A conference is set for September 7, 2021 at 9:30 am in New York,” signed district judge Kevin Castel on the court order on Tuesday.

Griffith was arrested in 2019 after a visit to North Korea on allegations of consulting the country’s top brass to use cryptocurrencies to evade various financial sanctions imposed on the nation. He has since fought the case and has been placed under severe restrictions, with no access to the internet.

The developer traveled to North Korea in 2019 despite strict regulations. As per immigration rules, no US citizen can visit the country as a tourist, and all possible entries are granted only in “limited circumstances” on a case-by-case basis.

But Griffith has maintained innocence and claimed to have traveled to the country to visit a blockchain conference.

He is, however, said to have provided detailed answers to “unsophisticated questions” to help attendees to understand blockchain and cryptocurrency concepts in a better manner at the time, a copy of which the authorities are currently assessing.

As per the Tuesday order, the prosecution is expected to work with Griffith’s lawyers and produce a stipulation of the case before January 25, 2021. The parties are additionally directed to submit a letter to the Court by December 30, 2020, in case of any reluctance against conducting the hearing in 2021.


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Ethereum Developer Virgil Griffith Will Likely Face Trial Next September

The U.S. government intends to argue that Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith helped North Koreans better understand how crypto could be used to bypass financial sanctions on the nation.

Griffith, who was arrested in November 2019 on charges of conspiracy to assist North Korea (DPRK) in using cryptocurrency for its own benefit, is seeking to have the case against him dismissed. While U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel, of the Southern District of New York, made a handful of rulings on minor points in the case, a full trial has been tentatively scheduled for September 2021.

According to the government’s complaint, Griffith traveled to Pyongyang to speak at a blockchain conference last April despite being denied permission from the U.S. government. This is the first case involving cryptocurrency and sanctions in the U.S. courts. 

In October, Griffith’s representatives filed a motion to dismiss charges levied against him. The motion argued that Griffith relaying public information on blockchain technology to North Koreans did not constitute providing the nation a service, and the government’s allegations failed to specify facts. 

During the Tuesday hearing on the case, this became a strong point of contention. Judge Castel questioned if the government planned to argue that information disclosed in Griffith’s speech at the conference was “above and beyond” existing blockchain capabilities and knowledge of the DPRK.

“What I want to know is whether the government intends to stand in front of the jury and argue that the information that Mr. Griffith provided and intended to provide, as an object of the conspiracy, included information not otherwise known to the DPRK. Do you plan to do that?” he asked. 

The prosecution replied it will not be making this argument, because the defense’s definition of DPRK in the motion to dismiss was too broad. Instead, it will provide evidence on how Griffith’s speech and the Q&A session that followed helped individuals within the audience understand how cryptocurrency works. 

“Mr. Griffith himself made statements to the FBI, in which he described a lack of sophistication of the people in the audience who are asking questions, with certain exceptions, and the types of things he was doing to help them better understand these concepts. So whether or not there is, but there are materials that reflect the DPRK as a whole or some other unknown component of the DPRK cryptocurrency capabilities is not an issue in this case,” prosecution attorney Kyle Wirshba said.  

What does not appear to have been clarified is what specific charges Griffith will face trial over: the complaint includes a broad charge of violating sanctions law, but Griffith’s attorneys want to know what exactly he is being accused of.


Although Judge Castel did not rule on the motion to dismiss the charges against Griffith, a number of other orders were given out. 

Judge Castel granted a motion by the defendants to compel the disclosure of information that the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) may have participated in Griffith’s case from the initial communications between the FBI and OFAC starting on October 24, 2019 until the present time. 

“Generally speaking, when the prosecution conducts a joint investigation with another state or federal agency, the courts in this circuit have held that the prosecutor’s duty extends to reviewing the materials in the possession of that other agency for Brady purposes,” Judge Castel said. 

The Brady Rule requires the prosecution to disclose any information in possession of the government that could clear someone of guilt.  

The judge denied a motion by the defendant to reveal the identity of a witness that the government has yet to confirm. The government has no obligation to do so until 30 days prior to the trial, Judge Castel said. 

Read more: USA v. Virgil Griffith: What We Know (and Don’t) in the Bombshell Crypto Sanctions Case  

Citing the prosecution’s statement that it will not argue that the information Griffith passed on during his speech at the conference exceeded the DPRK’s crypto and blockchain capabilities, Judge Castel deferred ruling on the motion by the defense to search for information held by government agencies regarding those capabilities. 

Instead, he asked the two parties to work on a stipulation on the issue and submit it to the court by January 25, 2021. 

Finally, the judge proposed a range of dates for commencing the trial in September 2021. It was also decided that Griffith’s attorneys will submit a letter requesting the easing of some of the restrictions placed on the defendant. 

“As you know, he’s been on very, very tough restrictions,” Defense lawyer Brian E. Klein said, adding that Griffith has no internet access and can’t leave his home. 

Both parties were ordered to submit a letter to the court by Dec. 30 this year if they have objections to starting a trial in September 2021.



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Introducing GetBlock: Instant Access to Full Blockchain Nodes

[PRESS RELEASE – Please See Disclaimer] To build a blockchain-based application, for example, a multi-currency wallet or crypto exchange, an individual or a company usually has to deploy and maintain several blockchain nodes. However, not every beginner and even an experienced developer is ready to run a full node as it requires time, money, and […]


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