US DOJ Charges Two Europeans for Conspiring to Offer Crypto and Blockchain Education to DPRK


The US Department of Justice (DOJ) detailed yesterday that it had charged two Europeans for conspiring with a US citizen to help the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea evade US sanctions using cryptocurrency.

The organization claimed that Spanish citizen Alejandro Cao de Benos and British citizen Christopher Emms “conspired with American Virgil Griffith to provide cryptocurrency and blockchain services to North Korea.”

US DOJ Sentences Ethereum Developer for Conspiracy to Breach IEEPA

Virgil Griffith, an Ethereum developer, bagged a five-year sentence earlier this month after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to breach the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by providing cryptocurrency and blockchain services to North Korea. The DOJ revealed that both Cao De Benos and Emms were now at large.

According to official court documents, Cao De Benos and Emms contacted Griffith “to provide services at the DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference and arranged Griffith’s travel to the DPRK in April 2019 for this purpose, in contravention of US sanctions.” The DOJ explained:

“Cao De Benos coordinated approval from the DPRK government for Griffith’s participation in the conference.”

The organization detailed that the Europeans also told Griffith that North Korea would not stamp his passport as he had “obtained a rare full permission” from the DPRK “for US citizens to enter the country” for him to attend the DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference.

US Attorney Damian Williams representing the Southern District of New York detailed that the suspects conspired with Griffith “to teach and advise members of the North Korean government on cutting-edge cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, all for the purpose of evading US sanctions meant to stop North Korea’s hostile nuclear ambitions.”

Stressing that the suspects never obtained permission from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to provide any goods or services to the sanctioned nation, the DOJ noted:

“Cao De Benos and Emms are charged with one count of conspiring to violate and evade US sanctions, in violation of IEEPA, which carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison.”


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Azeez Mustapha

Azeez Mustapha is a trading professional, currency analyst, signals strategist, and funds manager with over ten years of experience within the financial field. As a blogger and finance author, he helps investors understand complex financial concepts, improve their investing skills, and learn how to manage their money.