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Ethereum developer pleads guilty to conspiracy charges

Hassan Maishera

Teaching people how to use blockchain and cryptocurrencies to launder money and evade sanctions is a punishable offence in most countries

Cryptocurrency expert and popular Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith has pleaded guilty to conspiring with North Korea to violate United States sanction laws. This latest development came during the developer’s trial yesterday.

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Griffith pleaded guilty to conspiring with the Asian country to violate US sanction laws. He travelled to North Korea to give a presentation on how they can use cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology to evade sanctions and launder money.

Griffith was arrested in November 2019 after attending a conference in Pyongyang in the same year. By his action, Griffith had conspired with North Korea to go against the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. The law forbids United States citizens from exporting technology and intellectual property to communist regions.

After pleading guilty, Griffith could face at least six and a half years in prison. The sentencing is expected to be delivered by early next month. Griffith was one of the leading researchers and developers for the Ethereum Foundation. He pleaded guilty when jury selection was set to begin in New York.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the trial was expected to touch on several key issues, such as questions of free speech and North Korea’s current relationship with the United States. In October last year, Griffith’s lawyers attempted to dismiss the charges. However, their arguments were firmly rejected by the prosecutors, who called them unavailing.

Ethereum is one of the most useful blockchains in the cryptocurrency space. As a programmable blockchain, Ethereum houses a wide range of innovations, including decentralised finance (DeFi) protocols, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), decentralised apps (dApps) and more.

Ether (ETH) is currently the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap. While Bitcoin remains the industry leader, some experts believe that ETH could overtake BTC and become the leading cryptocurrency in the world in the coming years.

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