US District Court Charges Two Europeans for Teaching North Koreans to Evade US Sanctions through Cryptocurrency

A US District Court has indicted two Europeans for infringing on the US’ sanctions on North Korea by planning a cryptocurrency conference in the Asian country. The charged individuals reportedly jointly organized the cryptocurrency conference in 2019.

A statement of the United States Department of Justice accuses two Europeans – one from Spain and the other from the UK – for conspiring to infringe on US sanctions on North Korea. The violations, according to the legal authorities, occurred through organizing a conference to teach on cryptocurrency-related topics three years ago in North Korea.

The allegations further stated that both Europeans partnered with an erstwhile ETH developer, Virgil Griffith, in offering information concerning how North Korea could utilize blockchain technology to evade US sanctions. Afterward, the trio allegedly kept providing further services relating to blockchain technology to help them construct facilities relating to virtual currencies. 

US Sanctions Former ETH Developer

Two weeks ago, a US District Judge sentenced Virgil Griffith to 5 years and 3 months of prison term and a fine of $100k for being part of the said cryptocurrency conference that aided North Korea in utilizing cryptocurrency-related technology to evade US restrictions.

Earlier in 2019, US authorities refused Griffith permission to travel to North Korea. However, the former ETH dev violated the country’s authorities and traveled to the dictatorship regime for the cryptocurrency tech-teaching sessions.

Reports say that Griffith wore North Korean apparel at the conference while he taught the country how to utilize blockchain and crypto technology in laundering funds and contravening foreign restrictions. Also, Griffith provided information that could assist North Koreans in utilizing smart contracts to aid their nuclear weaponry bargains with the US. 

Towards lessening the extremity of his judgment, Griffith’s defense attorneys provided evidence that the former developer suffered from psychological disorders, which included an obsession for the dictatorship regime. 

More on the Latest Indictment

The latest indictment also accuses the two Europeans of employing Griffith to make a presentation at the North Korean conference. The US District court says the convicted persons helped organize Griffith’s traveling to the dictatorship regime three years ago for the same purpose. 

Moreover, the court accused both of them of participating with the North Korean government to aid Griffith’s activities in the conference. The court levies a one-count charge on the pair for planning to circumvent US restrictions in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). Defaulters have up to 20 years prison term.

Recently, the FBI, accompanied by the US Department of Justice, warned any individuals or organizations considering evading the country’s restrictions on any foreign country. Last week, US authorities sanctioned three ETH addresses it says are linked to North Korean hackers who allegedly stole over $600 in the popular Axie Infinity hack.

North Koreans have continued to increase their sophistications by employing cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology in circumventing economic restrictions. The country has allegedly sponsored different hacks to cart away millions of USD from people’s digital wallets worldwide.

A report by Chainalysis showed that hackers and exploiters in North Korea stole close to 400 million USD last year. The hacks and exploits allegedly utilized a careful system of laundering funds via several cryptocurrency tumblers and DeFi exchange hacks.