US cryptocurrency developer jailed for helping North Korea evade sanctions
An American cryptocurrency developer has been jailed for five years for helping the North Korean regime evade US sanctions imposed over its nuclear weapons programme. Virgil Griffith, 39, pleaded guilty last September to travelling to North Korea – officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) – to attend a blockchain conference in the capital Pyongyang in April 2019, despite having been refused permission to go there by the US Department of State. While at the conference in Pyongyang, Griffith “provided instruction on how the DPRK could use blockchain and cryptocurrency technology to launder money and evade sanctions”, according to the Department of Justice. The researcher, who lives in Singapore, paid €100 for a visa which he attached to a paper separate from his US passport to avoid creating physical proof that he had been to North Korea. His presentations “had been approved by DPRK officials” according to prosecutors, “and focused on, among other things, how blockchain technology… could be used to benefit the DPRK, including in nuclear weapons negotiations with the United States”.