Blockchain and Crypto are already complex concepts in themselves but once they take their place on the world stage and regulations and laws across various jurisdictions come in, they become even more complicated matters. For example, North Korea has been accused of backing state-sanctioned hackers to steal cryptocurrency for the funding of the nuclear weapons program and also of trying to use cryptocurrency to dodge US sanctions. As much as cryptocurrency is seeing great progress on the world stage, it is inevitable that at some point, it will get tangled in various international disputes.
An Ethereum Foundation researcher named Virgil Griffith has learned this the hard way as he has recently been refused bail in the city of New York following his arrest for violation of US laws by traveling to North Korea for the purposes of blockchain education.
“Griffith was presented yesterday and ordered detained,” James Margolin, the chief public information officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Southern District of New York, who also stated that Griffith intends to appeal the decision and appear before a judge in the near future. The official bill application was denied on December 26, 2019, and Griffith will remain in custody for the time being.
Griffith’s initial arrest took place on November 28, 2019, after he traveled to North Korea to provide education about making use of blockchain and cryptocurrency to dodge sanctions and this puts him in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).
This offense could land him up to 20 years in jail and according to the press who were present at the trial, Griffith had sent out text messages to loved ones denouncing his US citizenship and also detailed plans to engage in money laundering in North Korea. Griffith’s lawyer was also said to have provided some inconsistent details during pre-trial activities and claimed that Griffith owned and rented property in Puerto Rico and made reference to the growing use of cryptocurrency in that region.