American pleads guilty to helping North Korea illegally with cryptocurrency

American computer programmer Virgil Griffith pleaded guilty to illegally helping North Korea with cryptocurrency transactions. This was reported on Monday, September 27, on the official website of the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to the Justice Department, Griffith’s advice included technical information on the use of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to circumvent U.S. sanctions.

“Griffith compromised the national security of the United States by circumventing sanctions imposed by Congress and the president by supporting the treacherous North Korean regime,” said United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss.

The 38-year-old programmer began consulting back in 2018, and in 2019, despite a U.S. State Department ban on entering the DPRK, he visited Pyongyang, where he attended a conference on cryptocurrencies and blockchain. There, he and his associates spoke about ways to launder money and circumvent sanctions using these technologies.

In addition, according to the materials of the investigation, the programmer hatched plans to facilitate the exchange of cryptocurrencies between the DPRK and South Korea.

As noted in the report of the Ministry, the sentence will be announced on January 18, 2022, the charges could face up to 20 years in prison.

Griffith was arrested in November 2019 and later released on $1 million bail secured by his relatives’ real estate. However, in July 2021, the programmer was arrested again for violating the terms of his release. As reported by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he tried to gain access to his account on the Coinbase exchange in order to use the money to flee the country.