April 25, 2022

Two charged with conspiracy to violate US sanctions

The US Department of Justice has brought charges against two European citizens, Spaniard Alejandro Cao de Benos and UK native Christopher Emms, accusing the two men of conspiring to evade US sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by planning and organizing the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference.  According to the DOJ, the purpose of the conference, planned in coordination with a third individual, Virgil Griffith, was to provide instruction and advice to North Korean officials about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, allowing the DPRK to transfer money internationally and evade US and other countries’ economic sanctions.

Griffith, a US citizen, pleaded guilty to conspiring to assist North Korea to evade sanctions, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).  He was sentenced to 63 months in prison on April 12, 2022, and fined $100,000.  Cao de Benos and Emms remain at large.

DOJ press release | Superseding indictment