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Griffith :Cryptocurrency expert admits to helping North Korea

Griffith : Cryptocurrency expert who gave a speech at the Pyongyang conference approved a plot to help North Korea escape sanctions.

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Virgil Griffith, a former investigator at the Ethereum Foundation, pleaded guilty on Monday.

The U.S. Department of Justice has said it has “endangered the security of the United States” by undermining sanctions.

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His lawyer told Wall Street Journal Griffith that he “sincerely regrets it.”

Launder money


In April 2019, Griffith attended the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference, with about 100 others.

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He had applied for a permit to go to North Korea. But when this was denied, he left, arriving in that country via China.
Seven months later, Griffith, who lived in Singapore, was arrested at the Los Angeles airport.

Prosecutors said Griffith. Who gave a presentation on blockchain and cryptocurrency technology. On topics approved by North Korean officials. Also “participated in discussions about using cryptocurrency technology to avoid sanctions and money laundering”.

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‘Human journey’


The title of the presentation was Blockchain and Peace.

Blockchain is a technology that supports cryptrocurrencies, in fact it is a large distributed ledger for transactions.

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After Griffith’s arrest. Ethereum cryptocurrency founder Vitalik Buterin distributed a request for support, which drew only a small amount of support.

In the Twitter series, Mr Buterin said the foundation did not support Griffith’s actions in North Korea. Saying: “It was Virgil’s journey, which many advised”.
On Monday, Griffith pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the US International Emergency Economic Powers Act. By providing services to North Korea, including technical advice on using cryptocurrency technology. And blockchain technology to avoid sanctions, according to a Department of Justice statement.

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Griffith’s presentation, the justice department said, among other things, focused on “blockchain technologies such as ‘smart contracts’ could be used to benefit DPRK [North Korea], including nuclear weapons talks with the United States”.

U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said Griffith had agreed to help “one of our most dangerous foreign enemies, North Korea”.

“Griffith has worked with others to provide cryptocurrency services in North Korea. And to help North Korea escape sanctions. it went to North Korea to do so,” Ms Strauss said.

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‘Deep sighing’


Griffith, who will be sentenced in January. Will face up to 20 years in prison but his appeal will mean that his final sentence is too short.

Ethan Lou, a journalist who attended a conference in North Korea. And followed the trial, said the acquittal was “an agreement for up to six and a half years in prison”.

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“Virgil was deeply emotional – he was very moaning at times when he spoke,” she wrote in a tweet.

Griffith, with a PhD from the California Institute of Technology. Worked for the Ethereum Foundation’s Special Projects team before his arrest.

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‘Good qualities’


On his now obsolete website. He said his intentions “exposed corruption, preventing abuse of power. And when ‘closed gloves’ ensure that the digital age does not become digital dystopia”.

He began to gain public attention as the founder of Wikiscanner. A tool that makes it easy to find. Often embarrassing or self-defeating, the Wikipedia edits made on computers by well-known organizations including the CIA. The Vatican, the Department of Defense and the BBC.

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Griffith also appeared on the reality TV show King of the Nerds.

His lawyer, Brian Klein, said he “has a lot of good qualities. And no one should blame him for this mistake”.

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