A cryptocurrency researcher and promoter pleads guilty to advising North Korea to avoid sanctions.


  • Cryptocurrency mining was one of the services offered by Virgil Griffith.
  • Griffith holds a PhD in theoretical neurology and was dubbed cult hacker in a New York Times story 11 years ago.

A famous American cryptocurrency advocate and the former hacker have pleaded guilty to instructing North Korea on how to circumvent international regulations by using virtual money, according to a New York court.

According to the Southern District Court of New York, Virgil Griffith, a Singaporean, began efforts in 2018 to provide services to persons in North Korea by establishing and funding cryptocurrency structures, including cryptocurrency mining.

In January 2022, a decision will be made.

Griffith, who faces a 20-year term, allegedly collaborated with others to provide bitcoin services and assist North Korea in evading sanctions, according to the court.
In November of this year, he was detained at the Los Angeles International Airport.

Griffith, 38, spoke on how to utilize both technology “to circumvent sanctions” during a symposium on blockchain and virtual currency in Pyongyang in April of that year, according to the US Justice Department.

The move was in violation of US Treasury restrictions on “exporting any goods, services, or technology” to North Korea, which were imposed in response to the country’s nuclear weapons development.

Griffith “began formulating plans to facilitate the exchange of cryptocurrency between the DPRK and South Korea” after the meeting, the Justice Department claimed, despite knowing that aiding with such an exchange would violate sanctions.

He also stated plans to abandon his US citizenship in order to “buy” citizenship in another nation, according to the department.

Griffith holds a Ph.D. in theoretical neurology from the California Institute of Technology and was dubbed a “cult hacker” in a New York Times story 11 years ago.

He joined Ethereum, a Singapore-based firm that is building a secure blockchain-based global platform for commerce and finance and pushing its own cryptocurrency of the same name, four years ago.

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