Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US crypto expert jailed 63 months for helping North Korea



US crypto expert jailed 63 months for helping North Korea

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Virgil Griffith (right) had pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate US law to help North Korea evade sanctions via cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. VIRGILGR VIA TWITTER

US crypto expert jailed 63 months for helping North Korea

A US cryptocurrency expert was sentenced on April 12 to 63 months in prison for advising North Korea on how to create cryptocurrency services and blockchain technology to circumvent US sanctions over its nuclear programme, court officials in New York said.

Virgil Griffith, 39, had pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate US law, in a bid to reduce the sentence for a crime that can carry up to 20 years behind bars.

Prosecutor Damian Williams said “there is no question North Korea poses a national security threat to our nation, and the regime has shown time and again it will stop at nothing to ignore our laws for its own benefit”.

He said that Griffith had “admitted in court he took actions to evade sanctions, which are in place to prevent [North Korea] from building a nuclear weapon”.

In April 2019 Griffith gave a presentation in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. He was arrested at Los Angeles airport in November the same year.

At the conference, Griffith provided information on how North Korea could use the technology to launder money and evade sanctions, including through "smart contracts", according to the court.

The prosecution said that after the presentation, Griffith "pursued plans to facilitate the exchange of cryptocurrency between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [DPRK] and South Korea, despite knowing that assisting with such an exchange would violate sanctions against the DPRK."

The US prohibits the export of goods, services or technology to North Korea without special permission from the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

In addition to 63 months in jail, Griffith will spend three years on probation.

Griffith holds a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology and has also worked on Ethereum, a Singapore-based global platform with blockchain technology for business and financial use, which has a cryptocurrency named after it.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement