The strong hands of the law have been stretched to Virgil Griffith, an American national and one of the Ethereum core programmers, who is sentenced to 63 months in jail by U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel for allegedly helping individuals in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) evade the US imposed sanctions.
The relations between North Korea and the United States remain intense as North Korea is reportedly still active with its nuclear program, which is still under sanctions by the United Nations. Based on this, the U.S. government enacted the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) to prevent U.S. entities from doing business or selling technologies that can aid North Korea’s threats.
Despite knowing this, the Department of Justice (DoJ) said in its announcement that Griffith and his co-conspirators have developed and managed technologies that can help North Korean individuals mine crypto and eventually evade sanctions. The DoJ revealed that against the approval of relevant authorities, Griffith not just travelled to North Korea by offering services directly to the country, but he also had sought to recruit other American citizens to do the same.
“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. Mr. Griffith admitted in court he took actions to evade sanctions, which are in place to prevent the DPRK from building a nuclear weapon. Justice has been served with the sentence handed down today,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.
Griffith, 39, pled guilty to the charges levied against him, and following his sentence, he will be placed on 3 years of supervised release atop a $100,000 fine. The DoJ is known to be proactive when it comes to high-profile fraudulent cases featuring crypto-linked entities. One of the crackdowns launched by the DoJ in recent years involves former BitMEX co-founder and CEO, Arthur Hayes, who promptly resigned from the role following the criminal charges levied against him and other executives of the trading firm.
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