Crypto expert jailed for undermining US sanctions

An American tech developer was hit with a lengthy prison term after conspiring to “provide services” to North Korea

On allegations that he helped North Korea avoid American sanctions, a US citizen was sent to prison for five years. His government said that he intended to develop and fund crypto infrastructure which could help him evade penalties.

Virgil Griffith, 39, was handed a 63-month sentence for the conspiracy charge, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday, noting that he pleaded guilty to traveling to North Korea to offer “instruction on how the DPRK could use blockchain and cryptocurrency technology to launder money” and avoid US sanctions.

According to reports, the man provided this information in his presentation at a Pyongyang crypto conference that took place in April 2019. The man attended the event “even though the Department of State had denied Griffith permission to travel to the DPRK,”The government stated that they were aware of the violation of sanctions against North Korea and continued to speak.

“Griffith’s presentations at the DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference had been approved by DPRK officials and focused on, among other things, how blockchain technology such as ‘smart contracts’ could be used to benefit the DPRK, including in nuclear weapons negotiations with the United States,”According to the Justice Department, He answered, it was noted by the Justice Department. “specific questions”From audience members “individuals whom Griffith understood worked for the North Korean government.”

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Also, the tech-expert was accused of plotting to “facilitate the exchange of cryptocurrency” between North and South Korea – also in violation of US sanctions – and of recruiting other American citizens to travel to the DPRK to provide similar services.

Though he was slapped with a conspiracy charge that can carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years, Griffith’s guilty plea meant a significant reduction in the penalty, which was brought down to a little more than five years. Griffith was sentenced to 30 years in prison and fined $100,000. He will also be on probation for three more years after his release.

US Attorney Damian Williams stated Griffith “admitted in court he took actions to evade sanctions, which are in place to prevent [North Korea] from building a nuclear weapon,”Pyongyang is also being considered “poses a national security threat to our nation.”

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Griffith was initially arrested by the DOJ in 2019, shortly after he returned from the United States. “jeopardized the sanctions that both Congress and the president have enacted to place maximum pressure on North Korea,”This is what it was called “one of the United States’ foremost adversaries.”

The US government has banned private travel and exports to North Korea. Citizens have been prohibited from entering the country since 2017, due to concerns about the potential for terrorist attacks. “long-term detention.”



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