Virgil Griffith Arrested for Presenting at North Korean Cryptocurrency Conference

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Prerna Sengupta
Prerna Sengupta is a writer for Thecoinrepublic. She is a law student at NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad. She is interested in Tech Law and is especially keen on cryptocurrency, blockchain, and Bitcoin. She hopes to pursue this field in the future as a lawyer.

Virgil Griffith Arrested for Presenting at North Korean Cryptocurrency Conference

  • He allegedly delivered a presentation on how to use cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology to circumvent sanctions in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
  • On Los Angeles, International Airport Griffith was arrested. He was arrested for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).
  • The maximum prison time for said charges is 20 years, according to U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman.

The arrest of 36-year-old Virgil Griffith was announced today by United States prosecutors for having allegedly delivering a presentation on how to use cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology to circumvent sanctions in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

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As announced on November 29th Griffith was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport. He was arrested for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). The maximum prison time for said charges is 20 years, according to U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman.

The IEEPA prohibits any U.S. citizens from exporting any goods, services, or technology to the DPRK without a license from the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control. As per the report, Griffith shared the confidential technical information to North Korea which could help them to launder money and evade sanctions.

By doing so, the sanctions that both Congress and the president have enacted to place maximum pressure on North Korea’s dangerous regime were put in jeopardy.

Griffith presented at the DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference despite being denied permission to travel there by the U.S. Department of State. To quote FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr.

“There are deliberate reasons sanctions have been levied on North Korea. The country and its leader pose a literal threat to our national security and that of our allies. Mr. Griffith allegedly traveled to North Korea without permission from the federal government, and with the knowledge of what he was doing was against the law. We cannot allow anyone to evade sanctions, because the consequences of North Korea obtaining funding, technology, and information to further its desire to build nuclear weapons put the world at risk. It’s even more egregious that a U.S. citizen allegedly chose to aid our adversary.”

According to sources, North Korea is planning to develop a cryptocurrency so that the DPRK evade can international sanctions and escape “the U.S.-dominated global financial system.”

Alejandro Cao de Benos, the authority accountable for North Korea’s crypto meetings, said at the time that the advanced money will be like Bitcoin (BTC) yet that they are still in the beginning times in the making of the token and that there are “no designs to digitize the [North Korean] won for the present.”

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