American crypto expert arrested for work in North Korea
Charges are pending against a citizen accused of helping show North Koreans how to circumvent sanctions
Digital currencies bring all kinds of possibilities for the online market, options that haven’t even been considered yet, helping North Korea skip the restrictions placed by the US, led to an arrest. Virgil Griffith was warned not to go, but he didn’t listen. This American cryptocurrency expert was arrested in Los Angeles last Thursday, as a consequence of a complaint made by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Griffith is a US citizen and resident of Singapore, and is now facing charges for helping North Koreans evade US sanctions they received by using cryptocurrency.
This 36-year-old cryptocurrency expert was charged with violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). This act, among many other guidelines, prohibits any US citizen from entering into any kind of commercial activity with North Korea, including the export of goods, services or technology, until a proper license is obtained by the Department of the Treasury. According to the DOJ’s accusations, the State Department even denied permission for Griffith to travel there, and he went anyway to give a conference about the technology behind cryptocurrency and how to use blockchain. To this conference, more than 100 attendees showed up including people that seemed to be working to the Korean government.
This conference put in risk the current sanctions the Congress and the President placed on this country as extra pressure due to North Korea’s dangerous regimen. This conference was approved by local officials and it even included conversations about a smart contract that benefits North Korea. Griffith was to appear in federal court yesterday to face charges and the maximum sentence he could get is 20 years behind bars.