Former Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith is sentenced to 5 years in prison and a $100,000 fine for violating US sanctions on North Korea.
Virgil Griffith was helping North Korea with Blockchain technology. He also traveled to North Korea without permission and attended a conference o discuss how the country can use blockchain to evade the US imposed economic sanctions.
While announcing the sentence to Griffith the Judge exclaimed that “what you see here is intentionality, a deliberate, willful intent to violate the sanctions’ regime”.
The International Emergency Economic Powers Act in USA bans citizens from exporting any “goods, services or technology to the DPRK (North Korea) without a license from the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).”
Griffith tried to take permission from U.S authorities to travel to North Korea in early 2019. He was unsuccessful but went anyway to attend the conference on Blockchain and Cryptocurrency held in the capital Pyongyang.
He wore a North Korean suit to the conference and gave a presentation on how the country can launder money and evade US sanctions by using cryptocurrencies.
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The legal team for Griffith’s defense said that he suffered from Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). That explains his “obsession” with North Korea and why he acted irrationally, they said.
In his own defense, Griffith spoke to the court and said that he was remorseful of his actions. The court was however unconvinced.
“The fact of the matter is Virgil Griffith hoped to come home as a crypto hero, to be admired and praised for standing up to government sanctions, for his fearlessness and nobility.”
North Korean hackers stole nearly $400 million in 2021 by employing a laundering system involving decentralized exchange swaps and multiple crypto tumblers.