Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith has been sentenced to 63 months in prison and handed a $100,000 fine following his arrest in 2019.
After giving a talk on Ethereum and cryptocurrency at a blockchain conference in the North Korean capital Pyongyang, the 38-year-old was accused of teaching North Koreans ways to use cryptocurrency to evade US sanctions.
He was arrested and charged with conspiracy to violate The International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
Alongside this, Griffith travelled without permission from the US government to North Korea.
There had been a previous allegation in a letter by US Attorney Geoffrey S Berman that the developer had “provided highly technical information to North Korea, knowing that this information could be used to help North Korea launder money and evade sanctions”.
In a deal with federal prosecutors, Griffith pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracy in September 2021, leading to a five-year sentence rather than the customary six and a half years.
During sentencing, Griffith described the act as “a terrible idea”, something that everyone “warned” him about. He continued to state he “genuinely, arrogantly, and erroneously thought he knew better”.
US Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “As he admitted in court today, Virgil Griffith agreed to help one of our nation’s most dangerous foreign adversaries, North Korea. Griffith worked with others to provide cryptocurrency services to North Korea and assist North Korea in evading sanctions, and travelled to North Korea to do so.”