Virgil Griffith: I helped North Korea Avoid U.S. Sanctions

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Cryptocurrency expert Virgil Griffith confessed yesterday that he helped North Korea evade U.S. sanctions by conspiring to violate the International Law on Economic Emergency Forces (IEEPA) and Executive Order 13466.

Griffith, who worked as a special programmer and researcher for the Ethereum Foundation, was arrested in November 2019 by the FBI.

His arrest came after he traveled to North Korea to show the country how to use cryptocurrency and blockchain technology (i.e. smart contracts) to launder money and avoid sanctions.

The defendant also talked about how North Korea could use cryptocurrencies to gain independence from the global banking system.

He went to North Korea, even though he was denied permission by the U.S. Department of State, and knew that doing so would violate U.S. sanctions against North Korea without permission from the Treasury Department, the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC).

According to court documents, the cryptocurrency specialist chose to obtain his travel visa on a separate paper instead of his U.S. passport to avoid creating physical receipts for his trip to North Korea.

Faces 20 years in prison

After pleading guilty, Griffith, a U.S. citizen, and resident of Singapore face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He is scheduled to stand trial next year, on January 18, 2022.

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