Cryptocurrency research scientist arrested for 'aiding North Korea'

US citizen living in Singapore charged with helping North Korea evade sanctions

FBI arrests Ethereum Foundation official on suspicion of aiding North Korea

According to Griffith's LinkedIn profile, he is a research scientist for the Ethereum Foundation.

The US Attorney for the Southern District of NY has alleged that Virgil Griffith provided highly technical information to North Korea, information that could help Kim Jong-Un regime to launder money and evade sanctions.

Virgil Griffith advised Pyongyang how to use blockchain and virtual currencies "to evade sanctions" at a conference.

Griffith who is a USA citizen lives in Singapore and attended a blockchain and cryptocurrency conference held in Pyongyang back in April despite being warned by the State Department.

"There are deliberate reasons sanctions have been levied on North Korea".

According to the November 29 announcement, the 36-year-old Griffith was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport, and will be charged with conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).

On Friday, the U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of New York State revealed something astounding: it, alongside individuals from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other authorities of the U.S. government, had arrested Virgil Griffith, a United States citizen at the Los Angeles Airport.

While Griffith's actions are very evidently the result of faulty judgment and blatant disregard for law and authority, it wouldn't be surprising to see global regulators use this as an excuse to further crackdown on public ledgers.

Griffith is facing an offence that could land him in a 20 years jail time if found guilty of all the charges brought against him.

The IEEPA and Executive Order 13466 state that no citizen of the United States is permitted to export technology, services, or goods without getting a prior license from the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC").

The criminal complaint also alleges that Griffith was working on "plans to facilitate the exchange of Cryptocurrency-1 (Ether) between the DPRK and South Korea", in violation of USA sanctions.

The department said North Korean officials at the conference appeared to show particular interest in Griffith's presentation. He spoke about the allegations against Griffith, stating that the citizen had not received permission to make his trek to North Korea, as his information could essentially "put the world at risk". The full press release from the Department of Justice can be viewed at here.

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