Cryptocurrency Talk in North Korea Gets Ethereum Developer Arrested and Charged
January 13, 2020
Ethereum developer, Virgil Griffith was arrested in the U.S., shortly after delivering a lecture at a cryptocurrency conference that was held in North Korea. Reports have indicated that he has also been indicted.
According to court documents, Griffith is facing charges of conspiracy to violate what is termed as the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
According to the details of the indictment, it alleges that Mr. Virgil Griffith, among others, conspired to violate the prohibitions that were set by the Act by providing services to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea without getting permission from the U.S. government. In addition, Griffith is also facing charges of evading certain requirements set by the U.S. law.
Griffith is a developer who was, at one time, described by the New York Times as a hacker whose goal was to make the Internet a more interesting and better place. Upon his arrest, he was defended publicly by Vitalik Buterin, who is Ethereum’s co-founder. Virgil Griffith was arrested at the Los Angeles airport in last November last year.
Investigators claim that upon his travel to North Korea, Griffith presented his talk at the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference. They go on to claim that his talk was focused on explaining how people can use blockchain, cryptocurrency technology, and smart contractsto launder money.
North Korean Sanctions
The U.S. Attorney, Geoffrey S. Berman, is quoted stating that Virgil Griffith jeopardized all the sanctions that have been put in place by the U.S. President and the Congress to exert the highest pressure on the dangerous regime in North Korea. By him providing technical information during his talk, Griffith could, in some way, help the North Korean regime launder money as well as evade these sanctions.
Interestingly, it can be noted that Virgil Griffith is not the only entrepreneur in the blockchain space to visit the controversial country.
Last year, Alejandro Cao de Benos, a DPRK representative, claimed that Christopher Emms, who is an advisor at Skycoin cryptocurrency, allegedly guided a delegation into North Korea for a similar blockchain conference.
North Korea and Cryptocurrencies
According to international reports, it is clear that North Korea has repeatedly made headlines in connection to the cryptocurrency world.North Korea has been in the news on numerous occasions when it comes to cryptocurrencies. Recent reports from Hard Fork revealed how a hacking group, named Lazarus, in North Korea, is linked to stealing cryptocurrencies by the use of the Telegram messaging app.
North Korea itself has also faced allegations in relation to the use of blockchain technology for the use of laundering money.
In November last year, Chosun, which is an English news outlet from Korea had reported that the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee had been requested to carry out investigations on a firm called Marine China. The company is alleged to be run by a single person and it is involved in operating a logistics and shipping firm based on blockchain technology. This company was also allegedly used by North Korean to evade international sanctions.