Virgil Griffith, an Ethereum Foundation researcher, was sentenced to 63 to 78 months in jail. He was accused in 2019 of breaking the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which carries a potential penalty of 20 years in prison.
For distributing blockchain technology to the wrong people, Virgil Griffith has been sentenced to at least a half-decade in jail.
New York Southern District Judge Kevin Castel ordered the punishment against Ethereum developer Griffith.
Virgil Griffith will face 5+ years of imprisonment
Virgil Griffith pleaded guilty in September 2021 to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which prohibits U.S. citizens from exporting “goods, services, or technology to the DPRK (North Korea) without first obtaining a license from the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).”
Griffith was unable to obtain authorization to travel to North Korea from U.S. officials in early 2019, but he traveled nonetheless in April for the “Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference” in Pyongyang.
He delivered presentations at the conference, disguised as a North Korean, about how the government could utilize cryptocurrency to circumvent sanctions and launder money.
He also demonstrated how smart contracts might be utilized to aid the country in nuclear weapons talks with the United States.
Griffith’s defense team presented evidence of reasons that may have caused him to act irrationally in an attempt to reduce his sentence.
According to a clinical examination, Virgil Griffith was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
Griffiths’ defense team said that his diagnosis of OCPD and NPD explained his “obsession” with North Korea and was perhaps the reason he ignored warnings from friends, family, and the government about his trip to the nation.
Griffith was detained by the FBI in November 2019, a few months after returning from the conference.
Prior to his arrest, he met with the Bureau numerous times to discuss his trip, including presenting them with photos of himself making presentations at the conference.
North Korea has gotten more skilled in its use of crypto to evade sanctions and steal millions of dollars through hacks and attacks.
According to research released in January by Chainalysis, North Korean hackers stole approximately $400 million in 2021 through exchange breaches and ransomware, using a complex laundering scheme combining decentralized exchange swaps and several crypto tumblers.