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Ethereum developer pleads ‘not guilty’ to evading sanctions on North Korea

By Lawrence Gash

Virgil Griffith is released on bail but faces up to 20 years in prison

North Korea

A leading Ethereum (ETH) developer has pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

Virgil Griffith was arrested at the end of 2019 on allegations that he taught an audience at a conference in North Korea how to use cryptocurrencies to evade American-led sanctions. Griffith is accused of going into detail as to how to launder money with digital assets and of potentially even facilitating a transaction between North and South Korea.

Earlier this month Griffith was indicted by a grand jury and released on bail. If convicted the self-proclaimed “disruptive technologist” who wanted to “make the Internet a better and more interesting place” could face a maximum of 20 years in prison.

In a statement Brian Klein, Griffith’s attorney, stated that his client “should not have been indicted. We are going to vigorously contest the charge and look forward to getting all the facts in front of the jury at trial.”

Klein went on to ask whether the government had interviewed other attendees of the North Korean conference as part of its discovery process, adding: “We think other attendees will help exonerate our client.”

Although it will likely be some months before a verdict is reached, it is nonetheless true that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is taking steps to develop its own digital currency to help it skirt US-led sanctions.

A number of America’s geopolitical enemies have seen blockchain technology and digital currencies as a useful tool to oppose American influence and efforts. Last month the President of Iran advocated the creation of a pan-Islamic cryptocurrency to “save” the Muslim world “from the domination of the United States dollar and the American financial regime.”

FURTHER READING: Iran proposes Islamic crypto to challenge US dominance

FURTHER READING: Cryptocurrency expert arrested for helping North Korea “evade sanctions”

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