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Samourai Wallet Co-Founder Granted Bail

William Lonergan Hill, one of the two founders of Samourai Wallet, has been released on bail by the US government after more than 2 months of detention.
Samourai Wallet

On April 24, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) ordered the arrest of Keonne Rodriguez and William Lonergan Hill, the founders of Samourai Wallet, for money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmission business. Since then, Rodriguez has been in custody, while Hill is awaiting extradition from Portugal.

Today, the U.S. government granted Hill bail, though the conditions are unclear. Hill is scheduled to appear in court for the first time this week on July 9 or 10.

In a recent letter from Hill’s defence attorney, it was announced that both parties have agreed on bail for Hill but are still debating his place of residence during this period. The attorney wants Hill to stay in Portugal with his wife, while the DOJ prefers he stays in his sister’s basement in Brooklyn, U.S.

Since late April 2024, Rodriguez has denied all charges and was released on a $1 million bail. Hill’s bail is set at a minimum of $3 million. If allowed to stay in Portugal, the bail amount would increase to around $4.4 million. The letter stated that the family had staked their financial future on Hill, complying with all bail conditions.

Like his co-founder, Hill is expected to deny all charges soon. Hill’s attorney mentioned that gathering evidence and pre-trial procedures will take considerable time, potentially delaying the trial until late 2025.

In a compelling argument, Hill’s lawyer pointed out that Samourai Wallet had been available on the Google App Store for nearly nine years, from May 2015 to April 2024. Although Google removed the app after the founders’ arrest, if Samourai Wallet were a money laundering service, Google could be considered an accomplice for providing the app to almost 4 billion Android users worldwide.

Moreover, the government accuses Samourai Wallet of being an unlicensed money transmission business, subject to anti-money laundering regulations under the Bank Secrecy Act. However, Hill’s lawyer argued that FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) guidelines do not classify Samourai Wallet as a money transmission business.

The case file also included a letter from Senators Cynthia Lummis and Ron Wyden to Attorney General Merrick Garland. They argued that criminal charges against non-custodial crypto software developers as unlicensed money transmitters are inappropriate. This contradicts FinCEN’s guidance and undermines confidence in the rule of law.

Samourai Wallet offers Whirlpool and Ricochet mixing services, which mix a user’s funds with those of other users, eventually withdrawing to a new wallet. The obscured transactions make tracking and investigation difficult, drawing scrutiny from governments, particularly the U.S.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury has sanctioned Blender.io, ChipMixer, and Tornado Cash over the years.

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