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U.S. authorities arrest Ethereum research scientist Virgil Griffith for allegedly assisting North Korea in evading sanctions

Griffith is also part of the Special Projects group of the Ethereum Foundation, according to its medium profile.

On November 29, the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of NY announced that Griffith had been arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport on Thanksgiving Day.

"Despite that the US Department of State had denied Griffith permission to travel to the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), Griffith presented at the DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference, knowing that doing so violated sanctions against the DPRK", the Justice Department said in a statement.

On Friday, the U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of New York State revealed something astounding: it, alongside individuals from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other authorities of the U.S. government, had arrested Virgil Griffith, a United States citizen at the Los Angeles Airport. Griffith was told not to travel to the event, but he attended and presented anyway, where he discussed the use of this technology for the goal of laundering money and evading sanctions.

Griffith allegedly defied the U.S. government and attended the Pyongyang Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Conference in February. "By this complaint, we begin the process of seeking justice for such conduct".

The Attorney's Office refers to Griffith being in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and, according to the statement, would appear in a court in Los Angeles on Friday. Allegedly, his talk helped North Korea evade sanctions. He spoke about the allegations against Griffith, stating that the citizen had not received permission to make his trek to North Korea, as his information could essentially "put the world at risk".

The criminal complaint also alleges that Griffith was working on "plans to facilitate the exchange of Cryptocurrency-1 [Ether] between the DPRK and South Korea", in violations of United States sanctions.

North Korea has hosted at least two cryptocurrency conferences so far, one in late 2018, and another in the spring of 2019 - the one which Griffith attended. The full press release from the Department of Justice can be viewed at here.

In mid-September this year, the United States Treasury imposed sanctions on entities associated with three North Korean piracy groups, specifically claiming that the groups have helped the Pyongyang regime raise funds for its weapons and programs. missiles through bank pirates and cryptocurrency exchanges.

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