[TEMP CHECK] Donate to Roman Storm and Alexey Pertsev's legal defense fund

Author: @brileigh @matthewb

Date: 2024-05-03

Summary

Hi all. @matthewb and I have been JuiceboxDAO contributors for the last two years and recently we’ve been working on the legal defense fundraiser for Roman Storm & Alexey Pertsev. We are looking for feedback on the proposal below to contribute to their defense fund. We believe that Roman and Alexey’s cases are existential for the crypto industry and will set important precedent for protocols, developers, and users worldwide. They are facing significant legal costs on a monthly basis and are running out of resources to defend themselves. We hope that the Aave community will consider helping Roman & Alexey defend our rights to privacy and to publish open-source code.

Motivation

Context

Alexey Pertsev and Roman Storm, two developers who contributed to Tornado Cash, were arrested in different jurisdictions following OFAC’s sanctions in 2022. Their 2024 trials are setting important precedents for developers, privacy protocols, and the crypto industry more broadly.

Alexey’s first trial took place in March of this year and on May 14th he was sentenced to 64 months in prison along with the seizure of his assets. While in custody, Alexey will now be preparing for an appeal and may seek new counsel. Given Storm’s upcoming trial as well as Alexey’s appeal, they will be in need of approximately $400k USD per month for the next 4 months.

The government’s attempt to criminalize Roman and Alexey for a third party’s misuse of open-source software is unjust and unlawful. One of the judges in Alexey’s trial went so far as to say that Tornado Cash “is a tool intended for criminals.” But while legal advocates are spending enormous effort and money to defend Storm and Pertsev, the developers are faced with two governments using all of their resources to prosecute them and treat them like terrorists.

Roman and Alexey need your help to build a strong legal defense not just for their sake, but for crypto users and developers worldwide. Justice DAO is advocating on their behalf and helping to raise funds for their legal defense. However, time and money are running out and we need support from influential protocols and organizations within the Ethereum ecosystem. This donation will not only help to fund ongoing legal defense work but also send a message of solidarity to Roman and Alexey while they fight against government overreach and abuse of power.

View Roman Storm’s statement here:

Alexey and Roman’s legal defense fund on Juicebox:

Complete breakdown of associated funding and costs:

Specification

Voting Options

  1. Yes, donate $250k
  2. Yes, donate $500k
  3. Yes, donate $750k
  4. Yes, donate $1M
  5. No, do not donate
  6. Abstain

There are two ways to contribute to the legal defense fund:

  1. ETH or ERC-20 tokens directly via Justice DAO (requires KYC for the entity donating)
  2. Mainnet ETH via the Juicebox project

Disclaimer

Addressing Legal Concerns and Reasons to Donate

A. Hundreds of donors have already stepped up to defend open-source code

  1. Since 2022, over 800 donations totalling ~750 ETH have been received. Some of the most reputable figures & organizations in crypto have supported and/or donated, including:
  • Edward Snowden
  • Vitalik Buterin
  • Gnosis
  • Moloch DAO
  • Matter Labs
  • Bankless
  • BGD Labs
  • Nouns DAO
  • MetaCartel DAO
  1. Donations are managed by Justice DAO, a US-based decentralized autonomous organization registered in the state of Wyoming. Justice DAO is operated for charitable purposes by sympathizers of Roman Storm and Alexey Pertsev.
  2. Donations are processed in compliance with US laws. Donated funds are paid to the outside counsel representing Storm and Pertsev and are applied to outstanding invoices for legal fees and costs.

B. Donations are legitimate, legal, and ethical

  1. This campaign will make history and donors should decide which side they want to be on.
  • A number of well-known industry participants have already decided to stand with Roman & Alexey and against government overreach.
  • This is not just about defending developers – although that is important – it is also about demonstrating that the crypto community is full of good people who comply with the law. It is about defeating the government’s narrative that crypto is only used by criminals and others who have wrongful motives.
  1. Donating to a defense fund is legal in the United States. So is discussing and supporting donation efforts publicly on platforms (as in the case with governance forums and voting portals, for example).
  • There is no legal or ethical prohibition against defense funds. And in the US, donors arguably have First Amendment rights to contribute to causes like this one, free from government interference or retaliation.
  • Both Alexey Pertsev and Roman Storm are represented by reputable counsel based in the Netherlands and the state of California, respectively. There is an obvious, legitimate need for defense funding because they are in the middle of defending themselves against two different governments that have vast resources to use against them.
  • Several advocacy groups including Coin Center, Blockchain Association, and DeFi Education Fund, have already recognized the need here and have filed public amicus briefs in support of the defense efforts. Confidentiality issues limit how much can be said between now and then, but there is substantial and increasing community support for Mr. Storm and Mr. Pertsev, including organizations that are willing to make public statements in court in support of this cause.
  1. The fundraising campaign is compliant with the law.
  • Donors have the option of contributing to the cause directly through JusticeDAO’s website https://wewantjusticedao.org or by contributing ETH via juicebox.money.
  • All incoming donations are screened for risk indicators, including money laundering and sanctions risk. Details about the process are not publicized in order to maintain the integrity of the process, but anyone who has questions can reach out directly via Twitter/X @FreeAlexeyRoman.
  • Once donated, funds are used to pay for legal fees and costs (e.g., expert witnesses and consultants) actually incurred. The lawyers for Mr. Storm and Mr. Pertsev have to submit their invoices for review and approval, and any extra funds are held in a trust account to be applied for payment of future legal fees and costs.
  • Donations will NOT be used to cover legal or any other costs of Mr. Roman Semenov, who currently holds the status of a Specially Designated National (SDN) according to the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Please note that the foregoing statements are not intended to be legal advice to any DAO, Delegates, or any other person or organization. Anyone with specific concerns about legal issues pertaining to their own circumstances should contact their own counsel.

Next Steps

  1. Get community feedback on TEMP CHECK
  2. Snapshot vote
  3. If Snapshot is successful then move to AIP
3 Likes

Updated Context (see paragraphs 1-3 in Context) to reflect the recent verdict in Alexey’s case. With Alexey now in custody and preparing for an appeal, we believe that it’s more urgent than ever to support the legal defense fund. We are still looking for feedback from community members and delegates and would welcome any help to move forward with the proposal.

Hi, could you please explain what these two positions mean?
image

2 Likes

Hi @EzR3aL, thank you for your question!

  • 2.5% upon withdrawal from protocol
    When funds are withdrawn from the Juicebox project to the multisig, a 2.5% Juicebox protocol fee is incurred. This projected figure of $40,950 is just an estimate and will depend on how much is raised/withdrawn from the project.

  • Admin cost increase for 2024
    This figure is for administrative costs for fundraiser management and any third-party service providers.

If you have any other questions, please let me know and I’ll do my best to answer.

1 Like

So the only option for us as a DAO is to donate through Juicebox which benefits Juicebox and then someone gets 100k for managing funds for a year?

If thats the case, its a NO for me.
If there is a way where for example 100k being donated also stay 100k at the end and not be 90k or less im in.

1 Like

Hi @EzR3aL, thank you for your feedback.

The proposal offers two ways to donate:

We’re happy to accommodate either option at the community’s discretion.

With regards to Juicebox, so far it’s been the only protocol equipped and willing to support this fundraising initiative, unlike GoFundMe, which removed the campaign without notice and resulted in $30k of lost donations. It’s also worth noting that the campaign receives an equivalent amount of $JBX in exchange for any protocol fees paid, so this is a negligible concern overall.

With regards to the admin costs, $35k is the actual year-to-date expense (see left side of the spreadsheet) and $100k is the projected expense for all of 2024. These costs include service provider subscriptions, accounting/tax filing work, entity filings, and admin support. These are the types of expenses that any not-for-profit initiative incurs, regardless of its organizing entity or donation methods.

Also worth noting that since the initial admin cost expense back in February 2024, all of the work since then has been done on a volunteer basis without compensation for any staff who have been donating their time.