S'pore-based cryptocurrency promoter arrested for helping N. Korea

Pyongyang The US Justice Department said North Korea sought information on virtual currencies and blockchain systems from a US expert to find ways around crippling economic sanctions on the country

According to Griffith's Linkedin page, he has worked for the Ethereum Foundation, a non-profit company based in Switzerland that promotes and manages the cryptocurrency ethereum, since October 2016, Coindesk writes.

U.S. federal investigators have arrested an American cryptocurrency specialist for allegedly providing highly technical information to North Korea, knowing it could be used to help them launder money and evade sanctions.

Virgil Griffith advised Pyongyang how to use blockchain and virtual currencies "to evade sanctions" at a conference.

Griffith allegedly defied the United States government and attended the Pyongyang Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Conference in February.

The complaint said a search this month of Griffith's cellphone with his consent uncovered an August 6, 2019, message to an unnamed individual, known as Individual-2, indicating a need to send some cryptocurrency between North Korea and South Korea.

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What do you think about Virgil Griffith's actions?

Virgil Griffith is accused of violating the Worldwide Emergency Financial Powers Act, which has a maximum 20 Twelve months sentence, after travelling to Pyonyang to chat at the regime's annual blockchain match, despite warnings from the United States authorities. In doing so, Griffith endangered the sanctions that both Congress and President have promulgated maximum pressure on the risky North Korean regime, "said United States prosecutor Geoffrey S. Berman". Now, Griffith is scheduled to face federal court, where he stands to receive a maximum sentence of 20 years, if convicted. He adds that Griffith's presence wasn't meant to show North Korean citizens how to evade sanctions, "but teach them about Ethereum, just like he's done at many similar conferences around the world".

The criminal complaint also alleges that Griffith was working on "plans to facilitate the exchange of Cryptocurrency-1 [Ether] between the DPRK and South Korea", in violations of U.S. sanctions.

"We can not 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", said FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney.

The charges against Virgil Griffith are merely accusations at the time, but it is highly unlikely that the Assistant Attorney General and the Terrorism and Narcotics Unit will let this slide.

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