US citizen pleads guilty to advising DPRK on cryptocurrency • The Register


A US citizen has admitted to helping the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) build cryptocurrency capacity and faces up to 20 years in prison for his actions.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) revealed on Monday that Virgil Griffith, a U.S. citizen residing in Singapore, had made plans in 2018 to help an individual from the hermit kingdom mine for cryptocurrency.

In 2019, Griffith visited North Korea and spoke at a local cryptocurrency conference. The DoJ alleges that Griffth and his co-conspirators “provided instructions on how the DPRK could use blockchain and cryptocurrency technology to launder money and evade sanctions” and “how the technology blockchain such as “smart contracts” could be used for the benefit of the DPRK, including in nuclear weapons negotiations with the United States. “

The DoJ alleges that after the conference, Griffith “attempted to recruit other US citizens to travel to North Korea and provide similar services to people from the DPRK, and attempted to negotiate introductions for the DPRK to d ‘other cryptocurrency and blockchain service providers’.

North Korea accused of multiple attacks on cryptocurrency infrastructure, carried out to help it obtain funds it cannot access thanks to international sanctions imposed to protest the DPRK’s record on rights humans.

Or, perhaps more specifically, its record of terrible human rights abuses – the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has found that the nation’s government has committed “systematic, generalized and flagrant violations of human rights, some constituting crimes against humanity”.

The United States therefore prohibits the export of almost everything to the DPRK without a license. And such a license is not easily granted.

Almost all nations on Earth sanction the DPRK for these activities, its bellicose pursuit of nuclear weapons, and its missile testing program. The latter was on display today, with the launch of a short-range ballistic missile apparently scheduled to coincide with the appearance of the DPRK ambassador to the United Nations.

Griffith was accused of failing to obtain clearance from the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control before engaging with the DPRK and pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

This violation alone could earn Griffith 20 years in prison when convicted in January 2022. ®

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