According to US Department of Justicethe accused European citizens were the ones who invited Virgil Griffith to participate in an event held in the North Korean capital in 2019, for which he was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of alleged conspiracy.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) He filed charges against two citizens of European origin, whom he accused of having links with the North Korean government and supporting them by providing information to evade international sanctions through the use of cryptocurrencies.
DoJ sanctions two European citizens for conspiring with North Korea
According to a report published by the DoJ, the defendants would be the Spanish Alejandro Cao de Benos and the British Christopher Emms, who were part of the organizing team of the “Conference on Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies” held in the city of Pyongyang, North Korea.
Let’s keep in mind that the developer of ethereum, Virgil Griffith, was invited to this event in 2019 to share his knowledge regarding the use of the underlying technology of cryptocurrencies, and for this reason the DoJ accused him of conspiracy against the United States for advising the North Korean government on the usefulness of blockchain and digital currencies to find ways to finance themselves. The report issued by the US organization rightly points to Cao and Emms for having recruited Griffith to participate in the aforementioned conference, who was sentenced to five years in prison for similar charges.
In this regard, the federal prosecutor Damian Williams, commented:
“The sanctions imposed against North Korea are critical to protecting the security interests of Americans, and we will continue to aggressively enforce them with our law enforcement partners, both here and abroad.”
North Korea and cryptocurrencies
For some time there has been concern about the ties of the North Korean government with cryptocurrencies, which is why they are linked to certain high-profile hacks at the international level, especially directed against crypto exchanges and reputable companies.
In this regard, various reports published over the last few years indicate that various hacker groups are working with the support of the North Korean government. Among the recent cases, the hacking of the network stands out. Ronin, the latter associated with the popular game Play to Earn Axie Infinityfrom which attackers extracted around USD $600 million in tokens and which reports associate with the Lazarus group, precisely because several of the addresses containing the funds have been used by this organization to move cryptocurrencies.
It is unknown if the citizens mentioned are part of a criminal organization, but what prosecutor Williams emphasized was the following:
“As alleged, Alejandro Cao de Benos and Christopher Emms conspired with Virgil Griffith, a cryptocurrency expert convicted of conspiring to violate economic sanctions imposed on North Korea, to teach and advise members of the North Korean government on the reduction of cutting-edge cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technology, all for the purpose of evading US sanctions aimed at stopping North Korea’s hostile nuclear ambitions.”
And I add:
“In his own pleadings, Emms allegedly advised North Korean officials that cryptocurrency technology ‘made it possible to transfer money to any country in the world, regardless of any sanctions or penalties imposed on any country.’”
As for Cao and Emms, the report details that those mentioned are currently fugitives from justice, so they have active search warrants to find their capture.
Angel Di Matteo version / DailyBitcoin
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