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Support CenterNewsViolating Sanctions Against NK, Ethereum Developer Pleads Guilty
Violating Sanctions Against NK, Ethereum Developer Pleads Guilty
2022/03/08 15:16:25

Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith entered the plea in federal court in Manhattan on Monday. The 38-year-old American programmer was accused of helping North Korea dodge sanctions and launder money through speaking at a blockchain and crypto conference in Pyongyang in April, 2019 and was later arrested in November.

The developer was arrested in November 2019 after giving a presentation on cryptocurrency and blockchain at a North Korean cryptocurrency conference in April that year.

He also agreed to a forfeiture clause, though details were not released at press time. A 2019 charging document calls for the forfeiture of any proceeds Griffith earned from giving the presentation.

While Griffith was originally released on bail in 2020, he is currently in jail on allegations of trying to violate his bail conditions. Griffith tried to access his Coinbase holdings to pay his attorneys earlier this summer, which prosecutors said violated the terms of his agreement.

After entering a guilty plea, Griffith’s lawyers requested he be moved from Metropolitan Correctional Center to Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark, N.J., citing “very difficult” conditions at MCC, which is known for being dilapidated and dangerous for inmates.

Griffith, known for his normally bright and gregarious personality, was somber and emotional in court. When asked by the judge how he was feeling, Griffith said he had been doing daily “meditational training” and and was “acutely aware of how awful [he was] feeling.”

IEEPA charge

He was charged with violating a pair of executive orders that prohibit some types of transactions and activities in North Korea, including exporting services by U.S. persons. As a U.S. citizen, Griffith qualifies as a U.S. person, though his primary residence was in Singapore before his arrest.

At the center of the allegations was a presentation Griffith gave to the North Korean conference. While the specifics of the presentation have not been released, attorneys who commented on the case noted that much of the material may have already been public.

However, that may not have mattered for the prosecution.

Monday’s agreement caps off nearly two years of legal back-and-forth between attorneys for the prosecution and Griffith. Defense attorneys repeatedly requested clarity about the charges being brought, according to public filings.

Griffith’s plea deal came as a surprise, as both prosecutors and Griffith’s defense team have been preparing for a trial. A jury was finalized Monday morning. Documents filed in the case indicate that the decision to reach a plea agreement was reached over the weekend.

(Article Courtesy of CoinDesk)

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