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North Korea Crypto Conference Leads To New Criminal Charges
Two men have been accused of helping an American cryptocurrency expert evade US sanctions on North Korea by discussing blockchain technology at a conference in the remote East Asian country. East.
10:57 26th Apr, 2022

Alejandro Cao de Benos of Spain and Christopher Emms, a British citizen, have been charged in an indictment with conspiring to violate US sanctions, the Justice Department announced on Monday. Cao de Benos and Emms reportedly worked with Virgil Griffith, a former Ethereum Foundation cryptocurrency scientist who attended a 2019 blockchain and cryptocurrency conference in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, said indicated the department.

Griffith was sentenced to more than five years in prison this month after pleading guilty to violating sanctions. Cao de Benos, 47, and Emms, 30, face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. They are not held in the United States.

Prosecutors say Emms, a cryptocurrency businessman, told North Korean officials that blockchain technology makes it possible to “transfer money to any country in the world, regardless of whatever the sanctions or penalties imposed on any country”.

Cao de Benos, founder of the Korean Friendship Association – a group friendly to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s regime – reportedly helped coordinate official approval of Griffith’s attendance at the conference.

Griffith, 39, admitted he ignored specific warnings from the State Department against attending the conference. He was arrested in November 2019 in Los Angeles for providing technical blockchain information to the regime. Prosecutors said the information could be used to help the country launder money and evade sanctions.

Griffith was the subject of a New York Times Magazine profile in 2008 that described him as a “cult hacker” and dubbed him “the mystery man of the internet.”

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