Former Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith, who was arrested last year for allegedly assisting North Korea to evade international monetary sanctions, has now been formally indicted by Southern District of New York (SDNY) judge Kevin Castel.
The formal indictment, which is the fifteenth criminal case for the SDNY court so far this year, has been brought against Griffith for “conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act”.
Griffith, 36, who was granted bail at $1 million on December 30, has yet to be released following his arrest last year upon his return from a cryptocurrency conference in North Korea.
If Griffith is convicted, he faces a maximum jail term of 20 years.
The US Attorney’s press office informed independent journalist Inner City Press on January 2:
“He has not satisfied his bail conditions yet. Still awaiting the approval of his co-signers and the posting of properties as collateral.”
Aiding North Korea
While Griffith claims he was in North Korea to deliver a conference speech, FBI investigators have accused the 36-year-old developer of helping North Korea to learn technical aspects of blockchain technology.
The US Attorney’s Office for the SDNY gave a statement in December 2019 claiming Griffith had been formally warned on more than one occasion not to travel to the secretive Asian state, which officials described as “one of the United States’ foremost adversaries”.
Nevertheless, Griffith, who was seemingly obsessed with North Korea, traveled there regardless of the warnings.
Prosecutors say that the conference, and Griffith’s prepared materials, was solely for the benefit of Kim Jong Un’s regime.
The US Defense Council is now set to meet with the government to discuss the recovery of Griffith’s hard drives, which are stored at his apartment in Singapore.
It’s believed that the hard drives contain critical information for the case as well as stored cryptocurrency funds.
Griffith has been ordered to tell all parties with access to his apartment that the drives must not be tampered with ahead of their recovery.
Other conditions of Griffith’s trial include treatment at a mental health center and also testing and treatment for any drug dependencies – although the details of this are unclear.