The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) says it has charged Spaniard Alejandro Cao de Benos and U.K. citizen Christopher Emms with allegedly assisting former Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith in presenting the uses of crypto to avoid U.S. sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
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- Cao de Benos and Emms have been charged with one count of conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions against the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), which could lead to a maximum of 20 years in prison.
- The two are still at large.
- The DOJ said crypto entrepreneur Emms aided Griffiths in educating an audience that included members believed to have affiliations with the DPRK government at the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference.
- The lecture covered proposals to utilize smart contracts and crypto transactions to evade sanctions.
- Cao de Benos, the founder of the pro-DPRK Korean Friendship Association, allegedly partnered with Emms to organize the conference and recruited the now-imprisoned Griffith, the DOJ said.
- “The United States will not allow the North Korean regime to use cryptocurrency to evade global sanctions designed to thwart its goals of nuclear proliferation and regional destabilization,” said assistant attorney general Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
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