Feds Arrest Programmer for Giving Cryptocurrency Talk in North Korea

A Week That Started With a Roar Ends With a Whimper As Bitcoin Falls Back to $7300

The conference itself was attended by about 100 people, some of whom worked for the North Korean government.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, Griffith used his knowledge and expertise to teach a North Korean conference how to leverage cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology to evade sanctions.

Although the crypto community seems divided on whether Griffith deserves to be punished, there is definitely some concern that now that Ethereum has got the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice, Griffith's allegedly illegal actions might put all cryptoassets and crypto exchanges under much greater regulatory scrutiny, which could hurt blockchain development and cryptoasset prices in the long term.

36-year old Ethereum (ETH) developer Virgil Griffith, who's facing up to 20 years in prison for allegedly helping North Korea avoid sanctions, is now represented by Brian Klein, high-stakes trial attorney and partner at Los Angeles-Based law firm Baker Marquart.

Griffith's talk, which he titled "Blockchain and Peace", included discussion of technical concepts and issues that need to be addressed when creating a new cryptocurrency and, after the conference, he began work on developing a new currency that would make it possible to send funds between North and South Korea, the complaint said. The complaint also says that Griffith discussed "cryptocurrency technologies to evade sanctions and launder money".

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As previously reported by Hard Fork, Griffith is accused of breaking the International Emergency Economic Powers Act after he allegedly explained to North Korea how blockchain could be leveraged to evade U.S. sanctions. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation says Griffith still broke the law.

Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin defends Griffith. The court documents implied that Griffith acknowledged that this would violate sanctions against the communist state.

A spokesman for the foundation said the group disavowed any connection to Griffith's North Korea trip. "I don't think what Virgil did gave DRPK any kind of real help in doing anything bad".

Virgil Griffith, the head of Ethereum's special projects division, will be released from jail after his bond is posted, his legal representative said.

Earlier today, a judge ruled that there is enough evidence to move forward with a trial. "There was no weird hackery 'advanced tutoring, '" he wrote.

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