Samourai Wallet founders charged for laundering over $100M

The founders and CEO of a cryptocurrency-mixing wallet known as ‘Samourai Wallet’ have been arrested and charged with multiple offenses related to the cryptocurrency-mixing service.

Keonne Rodriguez and William Lonergan Hill have been charged with operating Samourai Wallet, an unlicensed money-transmitting business that facilitated over $2 billion in unlawful transactions. The pair also “laundered over $100 million in criminal proceeds,” according to a press release.

Rodriguez, the CEO and co-founder of ‘Samourai Wallet,’ and Hill, the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and co-founder, have been charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money-transmitting business.

“These charges arise from the defendants’ development, marketing, and operation of a cryptocurrency mixer that executed over $2 billion in unlawful transactions and facilitated more than $100 million in money laundering transactions,” the press release reads.

The pair laundered money from illegal dark web markets, such as Silk Road and Hydra market, alongside many other illegal schemes. These include “web server intrusion, spearphishing schemes, and schemes to defraud multiple decentralized finance protocols.”

“Rodriguez and Hill allegedly knowingly facilitated the laundering of over $100 million of criminal proceeds from the Silk Road, Hydra Market, and a host of other computer hacking and fraud campaigns,” US Attorney Damian Williams said

Samourai Wallet’s web servers and domain have since been seized by law enforcement.

“For almost 10 years, Rodriguez and Hill allegedly operated a mobile cryptocurrency mixing platform which provided other criminals a virtual haven for the clandestine exchange of illicit funds, the facilitation of more than $2 billion in illegal transactions, and $100 million in dark web money laundering,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge James Smith said.

From 2015 to 2024, Rodriguez and Hill operated, marketed, and developed the illegal money transmitting service ‘Samourai Wallet’ “in which they earned millions of dollars in fees.”

“Samourai unlawfully combined multiple unique features to execute anonymous financial transactions valued at over $2 billion for its customers,” the press release claims.

‘Samourai Wallet’ was marketed as a “privacy” service. However, the defendants were aware of the criminal activity on the platform, as it was a “haven for criminals” who engaged in money laundering and sanctions evasion.

Samourai Wallet is a mobile app that has been downloaded over 100,000 times. It stores users' “private keys for any BTC addresses they control inside of the Samourai program.”

The defendants knowingly developed at least two features that aided criminal activity.

Firstly, the defendants operated a cryptocurrency mixing service called Whirlpool, “which coordinates batches of cryptocurrency exchanges between groups of Samourai users to prevent tracing of criminal proceeds by law enforcement on the Blockchain.”

Secondly, the founders offered a service known as Ricochet, “which allows a Samourai user to build in additional and unnecessary intermediate transactions (known as “hops”) when sending cryptocurrency from one address to another address.”

These features allowed criminals to evade law enforcement and conceal the origins of cryptocurrency so law enforcement could not identify which currency came from illegal proceeds.

It’s estimated that 80,000 Bitcoin (BTC), which is worth approximately $2 billion, has passed through these services.

“Samourai collects a fee for both services, estimated to be about $3.4 million for Whirlpool transactions and $1.1 million for Ricochet transactions over the same time period,” the press release reads.

Both Rodriguez, 35, and Hill, 65, have been charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business. If the maximum sentence is served, both could face 25 years in prison.

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