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Technology A US citizen is accused of trying to help North Korea evade sanctions

07:45  03 december  2019
07:45  03 december  2019 Source:   cnn.com

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The US government amended sanctions against North Korea in 2018 to prohibit ' a US person, wherever located' from exporting technology to North Korea . Prosecutors said Griffith acknowledged that his presentation amounted to a transfer of technical knowledge to conference attendees.

UN experts have said North Korean hackers steal huge amounts of cryptocurrency to fund state activities. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. The cryptocurrency community is up in arms after the arrest of an expert who was accused of helping North Korea evade US sanctions .

A US computer researcher appeared in federal court in Los Angeles on Monday, accused of advising North Korea how to use cryptocurrency to avoid sanctions, according to the United States Attorney's Office.

a flag hanging on a wall: The North Korean flag flies above the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.© NurPhoto/Getty Images The North Korean flag flies above the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Virgil Griffith, 36, who lives in Singapore, was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport last week. A criminal complaint against him was unsealed Friday.

Griffith is a research scientist for the Ethereum Foundation, a Swiss-based cryptocurrency platform. In a statement, Ethereum told CNN Business it did not approve or support Griffith's travel to North Korea.

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“The consequences of North Korea obtaining funding, technology, and information to further its desire to build nuclear weapons put the world at risk,” FBI Prosecutors said Griffith later started work on making it easier to move cryptocurrency between North Korea and South Korea and encouraged

prohibiting North Korean citizens from entering Japan.[2]. renewing the ban on North Korean ships Both of them and two other PRC nationals were accused of assisting terrorists and forging requires the US Treasury Department to determine whether North Korea should be listed as a U . S . President Donald Trump accused China and Russia of violating sanctions against North Korea .[41][42].

Griffith is accused of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by traveling to North Korea "in order deliver a presentation and technical advice on using cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to evade sanctions," according to a news release from the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

In a statement to CNN Business after the Monday hearing, Griffith's attorney said his client has been released from jail pending trial.

"We dispute the untested allegations in the criminal complaint," attorney Brian Klein told CNN Business. "Virgil looks forward to his day in court, when the full story can come out."

The technology behind cryptocurrencies, known as blockchain, is a digital ledger and record made up of a list of transactions. The blockchain is powered by a decentralized network of computers that work on the same task.

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An American citizen and researcher has been arrested on charges of illegally travelling to North Korea and assisting the country in evading sanctions , the United He also appears to have been asked by North Korean authorities to help find other experts willing to travel to the country and offer assistance

North Korea has long been accused of using cryptocurrency to avoid sanctions , but the US is now accusing a man of giving the country some help American law enforcement has arrested crypto expert and Ethereum project member Virgil Griffith for allegedly providing North Korea with information on

Data cannot be easily changed or deleted, helping to avoid fraud. Since it's a permanent record, and because the ledger is held by many entities, it's nearly impossible to hack.

The IEEPA prohibits US citizens from exporting goods, services or technology to other countries without a license from the Department of Treasury. North Korea is specifically mentioned as a threat in executive orders.

The US Attorney's Office alleges that Griffith traveled to North Korea through China in April to attend the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference without approval of Treasury and despite being denied permission by the US State Department to travel to the country.

"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," FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said in the news release.

Man accused of helping North Korea evade US sanctions

  Man accused of helping North Korea evade US sanctions An American citizen has been accused of helping North Korea to evade U.S. sanctions, federal prosecutors in New York announced Friday. © The Hill Man accused of helping North Korea evade US sanctions Virgil Griffith has been charged with conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which allows the president to regulate foreign transactions due to threats or emergencies, according to a criminal complaint. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Griffith, 36, travelled to North Korea to deliver a conference speech entitled “Blockchain and Peace” at the DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference. As a result, Griffith is currently in custody in the US for allegedly assisting North Korea to evade international sanctions . The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, inspects a military unit on Changrin Islet in North Korea . “Griffith provided highly technical information to North Korea , knowing that this information could be used to help North Korea launder money and evade sanctions ," said U . S . Attorney Geoffrey S

"It's even more egregious that a US citizen allegedly chose to aid our adversary."

During Griffith's presentation, called "Blockchain and Peace," at the cryptocurrency conference, he discussed how blockchain technology could benefit North Korea, according to the criminal complaint.

After the conference, he "began formulating plans to facilitate the exchange of cryptocurrency" between North and South Korea knowing that his assistance would violate sanctions against North Korea, the complaint said.

He also announced his intention to renounce his US citizenship and encouraged other US citizens to travel to North Korea, the complaint states.

If convicted of violating the IEEPA, Griffith faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, the US Attorney's office said.

-- CNN's Laura Ly, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Mirna Alsharif contributed to this report.

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