February 4, 2023

Ethereum developer arrested for helping DPRK avoid sanctions

Ethereum developer arrested for helping DPRK avoid sanctions

Ethereum Foundation developer arrested in United States and accused of helping North Korea use technology blockchain "in order to avoid sanctions and money laundering for the development of its nuclear program."

36-year-old Virgil Griffith was arrested on Thursdayon charges of conspiracy with the regime of dictator Kim Jong-un to avoid US sanctions, said a statement by US Attorney Manhattan Jeffrey Berman. Griffith, a U.S. citizen who lives in Singapore, attended a blockchain and cryptocurrency conference in Pyongyang in April, despite a warning from the Department of State. Knowing the sanctions against the country, Griffith previously applied to the State Department for permission to participate in the conference. Although he was denied, the case file alleges that Griffith was still present at the conference.

According to the judge, Griffith violated the IEEPA law,which prohibits US citizens from exporting goods, services, and technology to the DPRK. The technological information provided by Griffith can be used to develop its own digital currency, which will help circumvent sanctions, according to the indictment.

If convicted, Griffith faces up to 20 years in prison.

Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin signeda petition for the release of Griffith, while noting that it was a private initiative of a specialist. Buterin believes that Griffith spoke in Pyongyang with publicly available information on open source software and did not transmit secret or specific data to DPRK specialists.