Samourai Wallet founders Keonne Rodriguez and William Lonergan Hill are facing conspiracy to commit money laundering charges filed by federal prosecutors. This move aligns with the US government’s ongoing efforts to crack down on tools in the crypto space that are used for fund commingling.

Moreover, they consider it a move by illegal entities and foreign actors seeking to hide financial transfers. However, the Department of Justice (DoJ) has faced criticism for filing charges against the founders of Samourai Wallet. CEO and Founder of CryptoQuant, Ki Young Ju, spoke out in favour of Samourai Wallet and its founders.

In a message on X wrote the CEO of CryptoQuant: “The US DOJ has arrested pioneers in #Bitcoin privacy technology.” He noted that crypto mixing in itself is not a crime because it improves privacy. Ju noted: “Privacy is central to Bitcoin’s values. Mixing in itself is not a crime. Even crypto exchanges use mixers to protect user privacy.”

Furthermore, Ju emphasized that the way a feature is used and the intent behind it determines whether it is legal or illegal. He compared the case of the Samourai Wallet to using a knife, which can be either legal or illegal. The founder of CryptoQuant commented: “It’s like punishing the inventor of the knife instead of the one who uses it.”

However, the announcement revealed that Rodriguez and Hill are accused of designing, promoting and operating a mixing service responsible for facilitating more than $100 million in money laundering transactions from illegal dark web markets. Samourai Wallet has reportedly facilitated approximately $2 billion in illegal transactions since its founding in 2015.

Additionally, prosecutors alleged that the duo collected approximately $4.5 million in fees for their mixing services on Samourai Wallet. These services offered different features with variable pool costs. The charges against them include conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmission business, with possible maximum sentences of 20 years and five years respectively.

In addition, Rodriguez has been arrested and is expected to be arraigned in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, Hill, who serves as CTO of Samourai Wallet, was apprehended in Portugal and is awaiting extradition to the US. In addition, authorities seized Samourai Wallet’s website in Iceland and issued a warrant for the seizure of the mobile application from the Google Play Store.

According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), Rodriguez and Hill allegedly encouraged users to launder criminal proceeds through their mixer, with evidence cited from tweets and private messages. The mobile app has more than 100,000 downloads.

The founders reportedly focused on censorship resistance and the black/gray economy, without expectations of mass adoption, but rather focused on black/gray markets, particularly during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

They allegedly sought investors by targeting “dark/gray market participants,” with marketing materials stating “Restricted Markets.” This was carried out together with online gambling and asset protection as target groups.


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