Earlier this month, it was reported that a former Ethereum researcher had traveled to North Korea to educate people about avoiding sanctions by making use of blockchain technology and was arrested upon his return to the United States as this act was in violation of US law. This is not the first time that North Korea has been involved in blockchain technology with regards to avoidance of sanctions as it is believed that their nuclear weapons project is been funded by cryptocurrency that was stolen by state-backed hackers. The researcher was also denied bail by the court.
Now, it seems there is some good news for Virgil Griffith as he has been approved for a $1 million bond by the courts. There is a condition for this bond, however, as he is required to stay away from the state of California.
Sweet Home Alabama
According to reports from December 30, 2019, the bond was approved at an appeal session for Griffith where he appeared before United States District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Vernon S. Broderick who granted a $1 million bond on the condition that Griffith remain in Alabama with his parents for moral suasion and avoids the state of California.
Besides this, Griffith is allowed to travel abroad to certain countries such as Canada, Mexico and some parts of the Caribbean. He is also allowed to stay in touch with his lawyers via email even though he tried to secure a passport from Saint Kitts. The guarantee for the bond is apparently the homes of some relatives and the case continues to unfold.
He had first been arrested on November 28, 2019, after his trip to North Korea which was in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and carries a possible penalty of 20 years in prison. He had also reportedly told families and friends by text message that he was denouncing is US citizenship and intended to engage in money laundering while in North Korea.
“As alleged, Virgil Griffith provided highly technical information to North Korea, knowing that this information could be used to help North Korea launder money and evade sanctions. In allegedly doing so, Griffith jeopardized the sanctions that both Congress and the president have enacted to place maximum pressure on North Korea’s dangerous regime,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman at the time.