U.S. Federal prosecutors charged Samurai Wallet founders Keonne Rodriguez and William Lonergan Hill with conspiracy to commit money laundering on Wednesday, as the U.S. government continues its hostile approach to financial privacy and crypto mixing tools due to supposed money-laundering concerns.

According to a press release issued Wednesday, the two developed, marketed and operated the mixer, which “facilitated over $100 million in money laundering transactions from illegal dark web markets.”

Allegedly, Samourai facilitated around $2 billion in “unlawful transactions” between 2015 and the present day. An accompanying indictment said this figure was reached by converting the value of bitcoin moved through the funds to dollars, based on bitcoin’s price “at the time of each transactions”.

The two programmers collected about $4.5 million in fees for their services, per prosecutors. Different features had different fees, per the indictment.

The pair are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business. The charges carry a maximum sentence of twenty years and five years, respectively.

Rodriguez was arrested on Wednesday morning and Hill, Samourai Wallet’s CTO, was arrested in Portugal that same day and will be extradited to the U.S., according to the press release.

The Samourai Wallet website, hosted in Iceland, has been seized, and a seizure warrant issued for Samourai’s mobile application to the Google Play Store.

Samourai Wallet's website's home page was replaced with this warning from U.S. officials after the mixer's developers were charged Wednesday. (Samourai Wallet)
Samourai Wallet’s website’s home page replaced with a warning from U.S. officials after the mixer’s developers were charged Wed. 24th April. (Samourai Wallet)

The move comes days after the U.S. passed a mammoth $95 billion-dollar bill in which a potential TikTok ban is tacked onto foreign aid for Ukraine and Israel. The bizarre inclusion of a social media applications in the bill has legal experts stressing that the newly-passed law could set a precedent carrying wider ramifications for digital media and civil liberties.

Following the indictment, Edward Snowden took to Twitter, saying that the U.S. Department of Justice is continuing on its crusade against developers, undermining privacy rights in the process.

In 2020, a United Nations report estimated that major U.S. banks facilitate around $2 trillion in suspicious or illegal activity each year. According to investigations at the time, even after fines and prosecution, “well-known JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Deutsche Bank, and Bank of New York Mellon are all involved in moving funds for suspected criminals”, per Forbes.

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