An American citizen has been accused of helping North Korea to evade U.S. sanctions, federal prosecutors in New York announced Friday.
Virgil Griffith has been charged with conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which allows the president to regulate foreign transactions due to threats or emergencies, according to a criminal complaint. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Prosecutors said that Griffith attended and presented at a cryptocurrency conference in North Korea even though he was denied permission to do so by the government because of sanctions.
Griffith also gave the country information on blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies and took part in discussions about using cryptocurrency to skirt sanctions and launder money, the complaint said.
Federal prosecutor Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement that 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."
"In allegedly doing so, Griffith jeopardized the sanctions that both Congress and the president have enacted to place maximum pressure on North Korea’s dangerous regime,” Berman added.