Virgil Griffith Pleads Guilty to Sanctions Violations

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  • Virgil Griffith has pleaded guilty to aiding an enemy of the state on the day his trial was due to start
  • Griffith took a plea deal which will see his sentence vastly reduced
  • Griffith attended a blockchain conference in North Korea in 2019 in defiance of warnings

Virgil Griffith, the former Ethereum developer who was charged with violating sanctions by giving a talk on cryptocurrencies in North Korea, has pleaded guilty to the charges. Griffith’s trial was due to start yesterday but in a stunning twist he changed his plea at the last moment in a plea deal that will see his sentence vastly reduced from the 20 years he could have received. Griffith will be sentenced on January 18, 2022 and will receive between 63 months and 78 months as part of the deal.

22-Month Battle Ends in Guilty Plea

Griffith has been fighting the case since his arrest in November 2019 following his attendance of a blockchain conference in Pyongyang where he allegedly advised attendees on how to evade sanctions by the use of cryptocurrencies. He was formally charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, although his lawyers argued that he didn’t provide them with any information they didn’t already have.

However, it seems that the weight of evidence against him was enough for his legal team to advise he take the plea deal, with his lawyer Brian Klein stating that he was sorry for his actions:

Virgil is sincerely remorseful. Setting aside what happened, he has made important contributions to society that we will raise with the court. He also has many wonderful qualities, and no one should define him by this mistake.

Griffith Gave Presentation to Pyongyang Crypto Conference

Griffith travelled from his home in Singapore to North Korea in April 2019 for the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference where he gave a presentation called ‘Blockchain and Peace’ despite warnings from U.S. authorities over doing so. He was arrested at Los Angeles National Airport seven months later, and was on bail until July this year when he violated his conditions.