June 19, 2024

Ethereum developer arrested for helping DPRK avoid sanctions

Ethereum developer arrested for helping North Korea avoid sanctions

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

Virgil Griffith, 36, was arrested Thursdayon charges of conspiring with dictator Kim Jong Un's regime to evade U.S. sanctions, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement. Griffith – A US citizen who lives in Singapore attended a blockchain and cryptocurrency conference in Pyongyang in April despite a State Department warning. Aware of the sanctions against the country, Griffith had previously applied to the State Department for permission to participate in the conference. Although he was denied, the case file states that Griffith attended the conference anyway.

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 could be used to develop his own digital currency that would help circumvent sanctions, the indictment alleges. 

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

Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin signeda petition for Griffith's release, noting that this was a private initiative of a specialist. Buterin believes that Griffith spoke in Pyongyang with publicly available information about open source software and did not pass on classified or specific information to North Korean specialists.