The United States Department of Justice announced Monday that it has indicted two Europeans on grounds that they were, along with Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith, helping North Korea in evading sanctions using crypto assets.
Per the press release issued by the Office of Public Affairs, Spanish citizen Alejandro Cao de Benos (Aged 47), and British citizen Christopher Emms (30) reportedly planned and organized the 2019 Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference in an attempt to help North Korea avoid US sanctions.
“In his own sales pitch, Emms allegedly advised North Korean officials that cryptocurrency technology made it ‘possible to transfer money across any country in the world regardless of what sanctions or any penalties that are put on any country,’” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York alleged. He added:
“The sanctions imposed against North Korea are critical in protecting the security interests of Americans, and we continue to aggressively enforce them with our law enforcement partners both here and abroad.”
The two are believed to have conspired with Virgil Griffith, the Ethereum developer who was recently charged with over five years in prison after he gave a lecture on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology at the aforementioned conference.
Prosecutors have also claimed that Griffith developed “cryptocurrency infrastructure and equipment inside North Korea,” and advised on ways North Korea could evade sanctions.
A recent report by security sleuth Chainalysis revealed that North Korean hackers have stolen more than $400 million worth of cryptocurrencies in 2021. The funds stolen are reportedly being used to fund North Korean nuclear and missile programs.