The Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith has to serve 63 months in prison.; this Tuesday by U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel in Manhattan.
Last year in September, Virgil was guilty of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. According to the charge, Virgil Griffith would need to serve 20 years in prison; however, prosecutors agreed to no more than six and a half years.
What did Virgil do?
The arrest took place in Los Angeles in November 2019. In the words of the DOJ, “by traveling to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) to deliver a presentation and technical advice on using cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to evade sanctions.”
The Ethereum developer has been in federal custody since July of last year. His second arrest was when Judge Castel revoked his bail. Virgil fled prison due to the surge in the price of the cryptocurrency. He was arrested once logging into his Coinbase account.
Judge Castel, quoted by the Inner-City Press, said, “Some says Mr. Griffith is being persecuted for promoting crypto. But that’s not what this case is about. He pled guilty the day before trial. It was an intentional violation of sanctions, which are intended to avoid military conflict.” Judge Castel went on, “Virgil Griffith has no ideology. He’ll play off both sides as long as he is at the center. I sentence him to 63 months in prison and a fine of $100,000.”
North Korea Event
The case occurred after Virgil Griffiths visited North Korea. His visit was to attend the “Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference” in April 2019. The court details said the following “Despite that the U.S. Department of State had denied Griffith permission to travel to the DPRK, Griffith presented at the DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference, knowing that doing so violated sanctions against the DPRK.” They made sure to emphasize that Griffith never got permission “to provide goods, service or technology to the DPRK.” The Department of Justice then said, “Griffith and other attendees discussed how the DPRK could use blockchain and cryptocurrency technology to launder money and evade sanctions.” There were around 100 other people that took part in the conference.