Two Europeans Charged In US Over Virgil Griffith North Korea Sanctions Case

The pair allegedly conspired to violate sanctions by recruiting Griffith to provide crypto and blockchain services to North Korea

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key takeaways

  • A citizen of Spain and a citizen of the UK have been charged for their alleged involvement
  • The pair allegedly recruited convicted Ethereum software developer Virgil Griffith to travel to North Korea to provide crypto services

Two men have been charged for conspiring with former Ethereum software developer Virgil Griffith over their alleged involvement in aiding North Korea to evade US sanctions, according to the US attorney’s office of the Southern District of New York.

Spanish citizen Alejandro Cao de Benos and UK citizen Christopher Emms are alleged to have conspired to violate sanctions by recruiting Griffith to provide crypto and blockchain technology services to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in 2019.

Griffith, who said at a sentencing hearing earlier this month that he had learned his lesson, was jailed for five years after he was found guilty of traveling to North Korea to deliver a presentation based on publicly available information about open-source software.

The pair are alleged to have organized a “Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference” for the benefit of the DPRK and are purported to have recruited Griffith to provide services during the event. It is said Cao de Benos coordinated approval from the DPRK government for Griffith’s participation, the statement reads.

The US, which has economic sanctions in place against the DPRK over the country’s continued testing of prohibited nuclear-capable missiles, said Griffith had intentionally violated the sanctions under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

The act prohibits US individuals from exporting goods, services or tech to the DPRK without express permission from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

“As alleged, Alejandro Cao de Benos and Christopher Emms conspired with Virgil Griffith…to teach and advise members of the North Korean government on cutting-edge cryptocurrency and blockchain technology all for the purpose of evading US sanctions meant to stop North Korea’s hostile nuclear ambitions,” US Attorney Damian Williams said.


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