FINTECH: American Lecturer Formally Charged Over North Korea Speech.

As published on modernconsensus.com, Thursday January 9, 2020.


Former Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith, who was arrested on Thanksgiving, has been formally indicted for conspiracy to use cryptocurrency to violate U.S. sanctions on North Korea.

Griffith was arrested after giving a lecture at a North Korean cryptocurrency conference in April.

Prosecutors alleged that Griffith discussed how to use blockchain and cryptocurrency technology to launder money and evade sanctions.

The indictment, filed with the court on Jan. 7, also noted that one other unnamed suspect accused of conspiring with Griffith “is expected to be first brought to and arrested in the Southern District of New York,” the federal court jurisdiction where Griffith is being prosecuted.

Griffith, who was the head of special projects for the Ethereum Foundation, was arrested on Thanksgiving Day at Los Angeles International Airport on federal charges of illegally traveling to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to deliver a presentation and technical advice on using crypto and blockchain technology to evade sanctions at the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference.

Attorney Stephen D. Palley noted on Twitter that the government said at the bail hearing that it is only looking at a one- to two-year sentence for Griffith, not the maximum 20 years he faces.

On Dec. 30, Griffith was granted release from custody on $1 million bail by District Judge Vernon Broderick. Most of that bail was being put up by his sister and his parents, who are taking out liens on their homes. Griffith, a U.S. citizen who resided in Singapore, was to live with his parents in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he grew up, pending trial.

He was still awaiting release, however. According to court documents, Griffith has yet to satisfy his bail conditions. The U.S. Attorney’s office told Inner City Press on Wednesday that Griffith is, “Still awaiting the approval of his co-signers and the posting of properties as collateral.”

The International Emergency Economic Powers Act prohibits U.S. citizens from exporting goods, services or technology to North Korea without approval from the Treasury Department.

Griffith’s case has been assigned to the Southern District of New York Judge P. Kevin Castel.

Modern Consensus reached out Griffith’s lawyer, Brian Klein of Baker Marquart LLP. He had not responded by press time.

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