39-year-old Virgil Griffith, a renowned Ethereum (ETH) developer has just been sentenced to more than five years in prison coupled with a fine of $100,000 for abetting North Korea or otherwise known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in evading sanctions imposed by the United States with the use of cryptocurrency.
According to the press release published by the US Department of Justice, added to the sentence, Griffith will be subjected to three years of close monitoring after serving his jail term.
North Korea has been on the sanctioned list of the United States after facts were proven that the country is a security threat. The sanctions were issued as a result of the proven obsession of the leader of the DPRK, Kim Jong-un, with the production of nuclear weapons which poses security threats to not just the US, but also to other nations of the world.
According to the provisions of the sanction, as stipulated in the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and Executive Order 13466, the citizens of the US are strictly prevented from offering goods, services, and technology support to any sanctioned nation or individual.
Griffith being a citizen of the United States, knowingly violated this sanction by traveling to North Korea in April 2019, to provide crypto tech support. The trip also saw Griffith drafted as a speaker in a crypto program in DPRK at the time of his travel tagged “Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference”, after being declined the permission to embark on the trip by US authorities.
Upon his return from the trip in 2019, hoping to be recognized as a crypto celebrity, he however was invited for several questioning by the FBI for allegations bordering on his role in aiding North Korea to evade sanctions.
Afterward, in November of the same year, he was arrested and has been in custody ever since, facing trials. He pleaded guilty to the crime, presenting evidence to aid his confessions. Griffith’s attorney attempted to plead for a reduction in his sentence showing proof that he is suffering from psychological deficiencies. The judge, Kevin Castel, turned down the claims and still served the due sentence.
The proceedings of this case show the due diligence that the US authorities have been deploying to ensure that DPRK or any other country does not by any means evade its sanctions with the use of crypto or otherwise.
A report published earlier in February revealed that North Korea has been financing its missile program by cryptocurrency hack and theft, one that amounted to millions of dollars, and related moves from the DOJ can thwart efforts by US citizens to be involved with the country’s agenda.