United States prosecutors announced the arrest of Virgil Griffith, who allegedly traveled to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to train on how to use cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology to evade sanctions.
On Nov. 29, an announcement by the United States Department of Justice stated that Griffith, a US citizen living in Singapore was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport, and will be charged with conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). The charges carry a maximum term of 20 years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated:
“As alleged, Virgil Griffith provided highly technical information to North Korea, knowing that this information could be used to help North Korea launder money and evade sanctions. In allegedly doing so, Griffith jeopardized the sanctions that both Congress and the president have enacted to place maximum pressure on North Korea’s dangerous regime.”
Violating The U.S. Sanctions Against The DPRK
The International Emergency Economic Powers Act (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.
Griffith was previously denied permission to travel to the DPRK by the U.S. Department of State. However, Griffith went against the decision and presented at the DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference, violating the U.S. sanctions against the DPRK.
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said:
“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.”
Source: United States Department of Justice | Cointelegraph Image: J. David Ake/AP