Cryptocurrency Developer Sentenced to Five Years in Prison For Breaking Sanctions

Key Takeaways:

  • Virgil Griffith has been sentenced to jail for 63 months and fined $1000.
  • He attended a conference in North Korea to talk about ways to violate US sanctions. 
  • His defense team says he suffers from personality disorders in an attempt to justify his actions. 

On April 12, Kevin Castel, the United States District Judge of the Southern District of New York passed the verdict that Virgil Griffith, an Ethereum (ETH) developer, be jailed for 63 months and pay a $100,000 fine. He was found attending a conference showing his support for North Korea to violate the US economic sanctions. 

The judge said that the developer had the intention to spread knowledge on how to avoid sanctions and this intensified his offense. Thus, his actions were intentional and it was a conscious effort to “break the sanctions regime.” 

Griffith attended the conference in April 2019 in disguise as a North Korean regardless of not having permission to travel to the country from the US authorities since early 2019. At the “Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference” in Pyongyang, he presented ideas on how North Korea can dodge the sanctions using digital currencies, and use smart contracts during the negotiations regarding nuclear weapons with the U.S. The FBI detained him soon after his return from the conference in November. 

To reduce his tenure of imprisonment, his defense team has claimed that he suffers from Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and has tried proving that his obsession with North Korea led to his actions. 

Though Griffith regretted his actions in the court and claimed that his psychological issues have been cured, the Judge stated, “The reality is that Virgil Griffith planned to return home as a crypto hero, to be respected and lauded for defying government sanctions, for his courage and nobility.” 

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Shreya Bhattacharya

A journalist & writer exploring new topics every day!

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