In 2019, Virgil Griffith, a cryptocurrency expert from the United States, attended a blockchain convention in North Korea, where he gave guidance on how to dodge U.S. penalties and launder illegal funds.

Yesterday, the 38 years old man has pleaded guilty to colluding to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which forbids American citizens to exports merchandise, services, or technology to the communist country.

The U.S. State Department Rejected His Request to Attend the Conference

FBI arrested the former research scientist and developer for Ethereum Foundation in November 2019 in Los Angeles after attending the “Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency” conference.

Even if the U.S. State Department has turned down his request to attend the convention, the researcher decided to make an appearance anyway.

As seen in court papers, in order to hide the physical proof of his travel, the crypto expert preferred to receive his travel visa on a separate paper instead of on his U.S. passport. He traveled to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea through China.

What Did He Say in North Korea?

Not only that he told them how to avoid U.S. sanctions and how to convert illicit funds from illegal activities into “clean” money, but he also discussed how North Korea could use cryptocurrency to obtain autonomy from the international financial system.

Griffith identified several DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference attendees who appeared to work for the North Korean government, and who, during his presentation, asked Griffith specific questions about blockchain and cryptocurrency and prompted discussions on technical aspects of those technologies.


The Punishment

Following his guilty plea, Griffith, a U.S. Citizen, and a Singapore resident is scheduled to be sentenced in January 2022 and could face up to 20 years in jail for his crime.

On Monday, Brian Klein, Virgil Griffith’s lawyer declared that the developer is genuinely sorry for what he did. 

As he admitted in court today, Virgil Griffith agreed to help one of our nation’s most dangerous foreign adversaries, North Korea.

Griffith worked with others to provide cryptocurrency services to North Korea and assist North Korea in evading sanctions and traveled to North Korea to do so.

In the process, Griffith jeopardized the national security of the United States by undermining the sanctions that both Congress and the President have enacted to place maximum pressure on the threat posed by North Korea’s treacherous regime.


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