US Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the FBI alleges that Ethereum Foundation official Virgil Griffith assisted North Korea in evading sanctions.
As per lawmakers, Virgil Griffith “delivers a presentation and technical advice on using cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to evade sanctions”. By his Linkedin profile, Griffith is a research scientist for the Ethereum Foundation and RBI alleges that Griffith traveled to North Korea for an event namely, “Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference,”. Moreover, he has not been permitted to travel to do so but they state that Griffith and other attendees were involved in a discussion on “how the DPRK (North Korea/Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) could use blockchain and cryptocurrency technology to 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,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman in a statement published on November 29.
It was claimed that Griffith was aware of the consequences of providing “highly technical information to North Korea” which have led him to violate the U.S. sanctions laws. According to the FBI, he also delved deeper into the possible plan of exchanging cryptocurrency between DPRK and South Korea. This being said, Griffith is indicated to serve a 20-year prison sentence on account of violating the International Emergency Economic Power Act.
A friend of Griffith, Wills Bentley de Vogeleare denies the allegation and thinks that the feds were overreacting. He further said;
“Griffith wasn’t there to teach them about how to get around sanctions but teach them about Ethereum, just like he’s done at many similar conferences around the world.”
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