Ethereum Developer Virgil Griffith Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy Charge in North Korea Sanctions Case

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Virgil Griffith, the Ethereum developer charged with violating U.S. sanctions law, has pleaded guilty in an agreement with federal prosecutors.

Griffith pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act on Monday in a New York courthouse. The plea deal could see him serve between 63 and 78 months in prison. He will be sentenced in January 2022.

The developer was arrested in November 2019 after giving a presentation on cryptocurrency and blockchain at a North Korean cryptocurrency conference in April that year.

He also agreed to a forfeiture clause, though details were not released at press time. A 2019 charging document calls for the forfeiture of any proceeds Griffith earned from giving the presentation.

He was charged with violating a pair of executive orders that prohibit some types of transactions and activities in North Korea, including exporting services by U.S. persons. As a U.S. citizen, Griffith qualifies as a U.S. person.

At the center of the allegations was a presentation Griffith gave to the North Korean conference. While the specifics of the presentation have not been released, attorneys who commented on the case noted that much of the material may have already been public.

However, that may not have mattered for the prosecution.

Monday’s agreement caps off nearly two years of legal back-and-forth between attorneys for the prosecution and Griffith. Defense attorneys repeatedly requested clarity about the charges being brought, according to public filings.

This story is developing and will be updated.

UPDATE (Sept. 27, 2021, 15:05 UTC): Updated with additional context.

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