US citizen facing 20 years in jail for teaching North Koreans to evade sanctions with crypto

US citizen facing 20 years in jail for teaching North Koreans to evade sanctions with crypto

  • Ali Raza
  • 30th November 2019
  • The US citizen Virgil Griffith was arrested upon his return to the country for violating US laws regarding sanctions.
  • Allegedly, Griffith traveled to North Korea around April of this year to deliver presentations on crypto and blockchain.
  • Griffith also advised North Korea on how to use modern technologies to circumvent sanctions.

The US prosecutors recently announced the arrest of one of America’s own citizens, Virgil Griffith. Griffith (36), was charged with conspiring to violate IEEPA (International Emergency Economic Powers Act). The charges were inspired by his decision to travel to DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), where he delivered presentations explaining blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.

According to US authorities, the goal of the presentations was to show North Korea how to circumvent sanctions, which is a clear violation of IEEPA and carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison.

The report, published by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office, states that Vigil Griffith “provided highly technical information to North Korea, knowing that this information could be used to help North Korea launder money and evade sanctions.” As a result, his actions jeopardized the sanctions enacted by the US Congress and the country’s president.

The US Department of State previously warned Griffith that he is not permitted to travel to North Korea. However, he did so anyway. According to William F. Sweeney Jr., the FBI’s Assistant Director-in-Charge, there are reasons why sanctions have been levied on North Korea. If the country learns to use cryptocurrencies to obtain funds, and in extent, information and technology — it could pose a threat to the world.

North Korea might become an even greater threat to the world

It is no secret that North Korea has been trying to create nuclear weapons for years now, and thanks to Griffith’s help, it might stand better chances at doing so now.

According to a report, North Korea might even be on its way of creating its own cryptocurrency. A native coin would allow the country to circumvent the imposed sanctions and bypass the “US-dominated global financial system.”

By Ali Raza
A journalist, with experience in web journalism and marketing. Ali holds a master's degree in finance and enjoys writing about cryptocurrencies and fintech. Ali’s work has been published on a number of cryptocurrency publications. Raza is the co-founder of, too, a site dedicated to educating people on 5G technology.

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