Former Ethereum Developer Faces 63 Months In Jail For Breaking Sanctions

Former Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith is set to face 63 months in prison and an additional $100,000 fine for violating sanctions on North Korea.

He was accused of helping North Korea to use blockchain technology, which goes contrary to the sanctions imposed by the U.S.

Griffith Traveled To North Korea Without Approval

The Southern District Court in New York found him guilty of the charges and read out the sentence after convicting Mr. Griffith of deliberately and intentionally violating the sanctions regime. The court also noted that the crime was even deeper following Griffith’s “desire to educate people on how to evade the sanctions”.

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Griffith pleaded guilty in September 2021 to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. The law was passed by the United States against U.S. citizens who may want to export any goods, services, or technologies to North Korea (DPRK) without receiving authority from the Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The law was passed to prevent North Korea from having access to any form of technology that would aid its development of nuclear power. The law has also banned U.S. citizens from visiting or going to North Korea under any circumstance without receiving the necessary approval from the authorities.

Griffith Educated People On How To Evade Sanctions Using Cryptocurrency

Early in 2019, Griffith sought permission from the U.S authorities to travel to North Korea, but his permission was not granted. But in April of the same year, he defiled the law and visited the capital of Pyongyang for the Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference without any approval.

During the conference meeting, he presented a speech on cryptocurrencies and how the country could use them to launder money and evade sanctions. According to reports, Griffith made the presentations while dressed in a North Korean suit. He also taught the audience how they can use smart contracts in favor of North Korea during nuclear weapons negotiations with the United States.

Griffith’s defense counsel, while trying to minimize his sentence, presented evidence that suggests he may be suffering from both narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). But while he pleaded to show remorse for his actions, the court did not seem convinced.

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