Ethereum researcher Virgil Griffith pleads guilty to sanctions violations


Ethereum researcher Virgil Griffith has pleaded guilty at the start of his trial in the Southern District of New York.

Griffith was formally indicted for allegedly giving a talk in North Korea on blockchain and cryptocurrencies, violating U.S. sanctions laws. At the time, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said Griffith allegedly “provided highly technical information to North Korea, knowing that this information could be used to help North Korea launder money and evade sanctions.”

Griffith was charged with conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economy Powers Act, facing a maximum of 20 years in prison. However, Griffith took a plea deal today with a maximum of 6.5 years in prison, according to journalist Ethan Lou, who spent time with Griffith in North Korea and attended today’s hearing.

The guilty plea itself came the first day of Griffith’s trial in New York began and jury selection was expected to start. “Virgil was quite emotional. Deep sighs sometimes when he spoke. Unclear what new development caused this guilty plea. The paperwork was signed only yesterday. One possible reason is the barring of the remote testimony of an Ethereum Foundation lawyer,” Lou tweeted from the courthouse.

Griffith will be sentenced on January 13 of next year.

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