Ledger CEO: Government Can Subpoena Seed Phrases

Ledger CEO Pascal Gauthier has played down the fears over subpoena access.

Pascal Gauthier posing for the camera framed in a Ledger logo.
Created by Gabor Kovacs from DailyCoin
  • The Ledger drama is far from over.
  • The situation has grown increasingly complex.
  • Ledger CEO Pascal Gauthier has responded to growing concerns. 

The crypto market is rarely devoid of drama. In the past week, Ledger has found itself at the center of the latest controversy over its Ledger Recover service, which sparked fears of an exploitable back door in its popular hardware crypto wallet.

The situation has only gotten more complicated since then. In a now-deleted tweet, Ledger let slip that it has always been possible to extract users’ keys with a firmware update countering previous statements to customers. Over the weekend, the firm’s former Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Éric Larchevêque further suggested that the government could access Recover customer assets through subpoenas, renewing customer fears.

While not denying concerns raised by Larchevêque’s comments, Ledger CEO Pascal Gauthier has played down the fears.

“Not a Real Concern”

In a May 22 interview on What Bitcoin Did, Gauthier conceded that the government could access Recover subscriber funds with a subpoena but downplayed fears.


"That's not a real concern in the end because for several reasons … you only get subpoena like this by governments if it's a serious act like you know terrorism, drugs, etc.," Gauthier asserted.

The Ledger chief argued that it would be rare for the government to subpoena details for average users. 

Other speakers on the podcast were notably quick to point out that the Internal Revenue Service had subpoenaed information from crypto exchanges like Coinbase. Gauthier argued that Ledger offered a different service of allegedly little interest to the IRS, further reiterating that the Recover service was optional and that customers uncomfortable with the tradeoffs did not have to opt-in.


Ledger Recover hopes to address one of the pain points of crypto self-custody by providing users with a backup of their seed phrases. The service creates an encrypted version of customer seed phrases and splits them into three fragments held separately by three firms, including Ledger, for $9.99 monthly.

Despite this, albeit noble intention, several influential crypto community members cried foul, suggesting that while Ledger claimed that the service was optional, the code created a backdoor in the wallet that could be exploited.

On the Flipside

  • The government can only gain subpoena access to the wallets of Recover service subscribers.
  • Some community members have suggested that going open-source could help Ledger rebuild trust.

Why This Matters

Hardware wallets are widely viewed as the pinnacle of crypto asset security, and Ledger is often viewed as the industry leader.

Read this to learn more about why Ledger Recover has sparked outrage:

Here’s Why Ledger’s New Recovery Service Raised Alarms

Mixed reactions have trailed plans to restart FTX. Find out more:

New FTX 2.0 Plans in Court Docs Spark Derision

This article is for information purposes only and should not be considered trading or investment advice. Nothing herein shall be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. Trading forex, cryptocurrencies, and CFDs pose a considerable risk of loss.

Okoya David

David Okoya is a crypto news reporter at DailyCoin based in Nigeria. He covers various topics related to the cryptocurrency industry, including exchanges, regulations, and price movements, and strives to bring fresh angles to breaking news. With experience as a freelance crypto news writer, David upholds the highest journalistic standards, telling complete stories and answering lingering questions whenever possible.