A Manhattan judge has sentenced Virgil Griffith to 63 months in jail for a 2019 presentation he gave at the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference.
Judge Kevin Castel of the Southern District of New York also fined Griffith $100,000 for his work teaching North Korea about how to use cryptocurrencies. Local media Inner City Press broke the news on April 12.
Initially arrested in November of 2019, Griffith pleaded guilty in September after a drawn-out case over whether his work in North Korea constituted a violation of sanctions. Upon his arrest, assistant attorney general John Demers said in a statement:
“Despite receiving warnings not to go, Griffith allegedly traveled to one of the United States’ foremost adversaries, North Korea, where he taught his audience how to use blockchain technology to evade sanctions. By this complaint, we begin the process of seeking justice for such conduct.”
Cut off from much of the global economy, North Korea was an early adopter of crypto for geopolitical reasons. Local hackers Lazarus Group have pulled off some of the most audacious hacks in crypto’s history, by many accounts as a means of funding the North Korean regime.