The plot thickens. Did the supposed Tornado Cash developer arrested in The Netherlands have ties to a Russian safety company? Is a job in 2017 for an organization with tenuous connections to Russia sufficient to justify the arrest? As Bitcoinist told you and reiterated, there needed to be another excuse that FIOD and the OFAC arrested a easy Tornado Cash coder. Is this one it? We don’t have official affirmation but, however it may be.

Apparently, the alleged Tornado Cash developer was Aleksey Pertsev, CEO of PepperSec and resident of The Netherlands. The details about his supposed ties to Russian intelligence comes courtesy of Kharon. The firm “provides data and analytic tools to optimize the core functions of financial crimes compliance programs, including KYC, screening, and investigations.”

How Are PepperSec And Tornado Cash Related?

Their report states that Tornado Cash “runs on software code developed by PepperSec, Inc.” What and the place is that firm precisely?

“PepperSec is a Delaware-registered corporation with its primary place of business in Seattle, Washington, according to a 2020 SEC filing. PepperSec’s website describes the company as a security consulting firm of white hat hackers.”

Currently, the website in question contains an “About Us” that claims:

“We’re professional security engineers seasoned by many years of practical experience and deep understanding of technologies. We’re ready to battle to make your project as secure as possible.”

Fair sufficient, however…

How Is PepperSec Connected To Russia?

Apparently, Kharon reviewed “personal and company profiles” and decided that Aleksey is PepperSec’s CEO. So far, so good. Where’s the smoking gun, although? Back to Kharon’s report:

“In 2017, Pertsev was an information security specialist and developer of smart contracts for Digital Security OOO, according to an archived version of the company’s website reviewed by Kharon. Digital Security OOO is a Russian entity designated by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2018 for providing material and technological support to the FSB, Russia’s primary security agency. Treasury alleged that, as of 2015, Digital Security worked on a project that would increase the offensive cyber capabilities of Russia’s intelligence services.”

That’s tenuous, to say the least. And under no circumstances associated to Tornado Cash. However, a caveat is that the opposite two “PepperSec’s founders — U.S.-based Roman Storm and Russia-based Roman Semenov” haven’t been touched. So far. So, the case may be towards Aleksey Pertsev alone.

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ETH worth chart for 08/26/2022 on FTX | Source: ETH/USD on

How Does All Of This Relate To Tornado Cash?

For this half, we’ll flip to quotes from notorious bitcoin enemy “Fortune.” The magazine interviewed Nick Grothaus, vice chairman of analysis at Kharon, who stated: 

“You had this guy working for [Digital Security OOO] and doing pen testing himself, and then Treasury designated the company for helping the FSB’s hacking capabilities.”

Ok, we didn’t know in regards to the “pen testing” half. However, how does this relate to Tornado Cash? To reply that query the journal resorts to Alex Zerden, an adjunct senior fellow on the Center for a New American Security, who stated:

“This opens up a lot of credibility issues for the developers of Tornado Cash. This is pretty profound information that informs why the U.S. government and Dutch authorities have taken certain actions.”

Does it, although? “There seems to be a more complex and complicated picture that takes more time to unravel,” Zerden added. And we agree. That’s what the EFF asked for, clarity across the Tornado Cash state of affairs. As Bitcoinist already said, “maybe the OFAC has a better case and the developer is guilty of something else. If that’s the case, with “clarifying information and reducing the ambiguity” the OFAC would have prevented this complete state of affairs.”

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Tornado Cash, a tornado over a city

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