Virgil Griffith – Ethereum Foundation research scientist arrested by the FBI on suspicion of helping North Korea
Virgil Griffith, a US citizen and research scientist of the Ethereum Foundation, has been detained under the International Emergency Economic Power Act.
Today, at Los Angeles International Airport, the FBI arrested the special project director of the Ethereum Foundation. The reason is that he is accused of assisting the North Korean regime in giving a solution to US sanctions by using the Ethereum blockchain.
US lawyer Geoffrey S. Berman stated: As alleged, Virgil Griffith has provided high-tech information to North Korea. This information can be used to help North Korea launder money and evade sanctions. When he did so, Griffith endangered the sanctions that both Congress and the president issued to put maximum pressure on the dangerous regime of North Korea.
On November 30, 2019, Griffith approached the cryptocurrency community to see if anyone else was interested in going to a blockchain conference in North Korea with him, according to his Twitter.
In North Korea’s capital Pyongyang, Virgil Griffith attended a blockchain conference. The Justice Department alleges that at this conference, Griffith taught North Korea how the cryptocurrency and smart contracts could be used to bypass the economic sanctions that imposed by the United States on certain jurisdictions.
William F. Sweeney Jr – Director of the FBI said, “Because the consequences of North Korea having funding, technology and information to build nuclear weapons that will put the world in danger. So we don’t allow anyone to evade sanctions “.
North Korean government officials asked him high-tech questions about the use of cryptocurrencies. In addition, they also reminded him to explain how to use the money to send and through Korea – a flagrant violation of economic sanctions. The United Nations estimates that North Korea has more than 650 million dollars in cryptocurrency.
The charges against Virgil Griffith were only accusations at the time, but it is unlikely that the Assistant Attorney General and the Counterterrorism and Drug Division will let this happen. Earlier this year, Griffith was rejected by the United States for permission to travel to North Korea.
Virgil Griffith, Ethereum Foundation’s special projects director
Wills Bentley de Vogeleare, a friend of Griffith, said that he thought the federation was overreacting. Griffith said that he did not guide them on how to overcome sanctions but taught them about Ethereum, similar to what he has done at many related conferences around the world.
Griffith will be charged today in federal court. If Griffith is convicted, he is likely to have a maximum sentence of 20 years.
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