Ethereum research scientist Virgil Griffith arrested by US authorities


  • The accused spoke at the "Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference" despite having been denied permission.
  • Griffith was arrested on Thanksgiving day and is awaiting disposition of his case before a judge.

The Department of Justice stated in a press release that Virgil Griffith, a resident of Singapore and a US resident, was arrested and charged with violating "...the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”) by going to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (“DPRK” or “North Korea”). He traveled to deliver a presentation and give technical advice on using blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies to evade sanctions.

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said:

Mr. Griffith allegedly traveled to North Korea without permission from the federal government, and with knowledge what he was doing was against the law. We cannot allow anyone to evade sanctions, because the consequences of North Korea obtaining funding, technology, and information to further its desire to build nuclear weapons put the world at risk. It’s even more egregious that a U.S. citizen allegedly chose to aid our adversary.

Griffith is accused of going to North Korea (DPRK) to attend and talk at the “Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference”, despite having been denied permission to travel by the U.S. Department of State.

John Demers, Assistant Attorney General said: 

Despite receiving warnings not to go, Griffith allegedly traveled to one of the United States’ foremost adversaries, North Korea, where he taught his audience how to use blockchain technology to evade sanctions. By this complaint, we begin the process of seeking justice for such conduct.

Griffith is specifically charged in connection with the IEEPA as a result of an Executive Order 13466 of June 26, 2008, “Continuing Certain Restrictions With Respect to North Korea and North Korean Nationals” and enforced under the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). He was arrested in Los Angeles on Thanksgiving day and is awaiting disposition of his case before a judge. The DOJ’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit will be handling the case.


 

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