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Author Topic: FBI Arrests Virgil Griffith, ETH Programmer, for Giving Tech Talk in DPRK🇰🇵  (Read 144 times)
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TwitchySeal
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November 30, 2019, 03:53:24 PM
Last edit: December 01, 2019, 03:22:49 AM by TwitchySeal
 #1

Quote
The office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the FBI announced today that it has arrested and charged Virgil Griffith for violating the U.S. sanctions laws and traveling to North Korea to "deliver a presentation and technical advice on using cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to evade sanctions."

“As alleged, Virgil Griffith provided highly technical information to North Korea, knowing that this information could be used to help North Korea launder money and evade sanctions," U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. "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."
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/u-authorities-arrest-ethereum-research-200109230.html
https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/manhattan-us-attorney-announces-arrest-united-states-citizen-assisting-north-korea


Pretty crazy story.  I guess they warned him not to go, and he did anyway.  Definitely seems like there is more to this story than just talking at a NK Conference...

The fact that he's being charged by the Southern District of NY is very bad news for him, unless he has something that they want he could get a few years (I think it's 20 max, which seems out of the question).

Been down a bit of a rabbit hole reading about this guy, he is clearly a brilliant programmer.  Like insanely smart.  Check out his Resume.



edit:
Official Complaint: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/press-release/file/1222646/download





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November 30, 2019, 04:15:47 PM
 #2

I'm going to assume that he also was paid for the talks and had been working directly or indirectly with the North Korean government. Obviously a clear breach of international and US sanctions.

Here's a little bit more into it, from one of the sources you've provided.

Quote
Pursuant to the IEEPA and Executive Order 13466, United States Persons are prohibited from exporting any goods, services, or technology to the DPRK without a license from Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”).

In or about April 2019, GRIFFITH traveled to the DPRK to attend and present at the “Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference” (the “DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference”).  Despite that the U.S. Department of State had denied GRIFFITH permission to travel to the DPRK, GRIFFITH presented at the DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference, knowing that doing so violated sanctions against the DPRK.  At no time did GRIFFITH obtain permission from OFAC to provide goods, services, or technology to the DPRK.

At the DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference, GRIFFITH and other attendees discussed how the DPRK could use blockchain and cryptocurrency technology to launder money and evade sanctions.  GRIFFITH’s presentation at the DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference had been approved by DPRK officials and focused on, among other things, how blockchain technology, including a “smart contract,” could be used to benefit the DPRK.  GRIFFITH identified several DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference attendees who appeared to work for the North Korean government, and who, during his presentation, asked GRIFFITH specific questions about blockchain and cryptocurrency and prompted discussions on technical aspects of those technologies.

After the DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference, GRIFFITH began formulating plans to facilitate the exchange of cryptocurrency between the DPRK and South Korea, despite knowing that assisting with such an exchange would violate sanctions against the DPRK.  GRIFFITH also encouraged other U.S. citizens to travel to North Korea, including to attend the same DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference the following year.  Finally, GRIFFITH announced his intention to renounce his U.S. citizenship and began researching how to purchase citizenship from other countries.

So yeah, he not only gave the talk but had been formulating plans to facilitate the exchange of crypto between NK and other nations while knowing that this would violate international and US sanctions.

Guy is going to be in a lot of trouble.




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November 30, 2019, 04:25:46 PM
 #3

So yeah, he not only gave the talk but had been formulating plans to facilitate the exchange of crypto between NK and other nations while knowing that this would violate international and US sanctions.

Guy is going to be in a lot of trouble.

Could he really be so smart that North Korea couldn't figure out whatever it is his talk was about on their own?  Maybe that doesn't matter I guess, and it's just the principle.  

Wonder if any North Koreans browse BitcoinTalk to look for new ways to launder money and scam crypto for their Dear Leader.

Whats up guys, come say hi.

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November 30, 2019, 04:27:41 PM
 #4

So yeah, he not only gave the talk but had been formulating plans to facilitate the exchange of crypto between NK and other nations while knowing that this would violate international and US sanctions.

Guy is going to be in a lot of trouble.

Could he really be so smart that North Korea couldn't figure out whatever it is his talk was about on their own?  Maybe that doesn't matter I guess, and it's just the principle.  

Wonder if any North Korean programmers browse BitcoinTalk to look for new ways to launder money and scam crypto for their Dear Leader.



It seems like it was a bit more intricate then that. Seems like they wanted custom coding done for smart contracts and things along those lines to further mask the fact that this was NK attempting to launder money.

It does make sense that this has to be more intricate then buying btc on an exchange and then using chipmixer, because we all know that the US government probably pays a large deal of money for chainanalysis. Would probably even pay off Chipmixer (or any mixer) to crack whos coins are whos.





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November 30, 2019, 04:45:52 PM
 #5

So yeah, he not only gave the talk but had been formulating plans to facilitate the exchange of crypto between NK and other nations while knowing that this would violate international and US sanctions.

Guy is going to be in a lot of trouble.

Could he really be so smart that North Korea couldn't figure out whatever it is his talk was about on their own?  Maybe that doesn't matter I guess, and it's just the principle.  

Wonder if any North Koreans browse BitcoinTalk to look for new ways to launder money and scam crypto for their Dear Leader.

Whats up guys, come say hi.



True. I'm sure Kim and his council can figure out themselves how to launder that Griffith doesn't have to go there. But then its also said that he go there to attention and present at Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference” (the “DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference”) when doing so violated sanctions against the DPRK. That is probably just his violation, FBI proving he really taught them to launder might not be easy.




 
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November 30, 2019, 04:51:42 PM
 #6

My initial thought was that he was exporting "technology" by having the talk, but the charge may be as simple as him providing a 'service' to NK, which would also be illegal.

I don't think many mixers will accept payment to disclose where coins came from, but it is possible to look at the blockchain to determine where coins ended up after going into a mixer.

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December 01, 2019, 03:01:14 AM
 #7

I could understand trying to help the people of North Korea use cryptocurrency, but an official government-run conference? That's like selling weapons to Stalin so he can more effectively starve his own people. I wonder what made him do this. Maybe he was just so eager to help people who requested his help that he didn't think too much about it. Or maybe he was in it for the money, but if so, this is one hell of a stupid way to try to make money.

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December 01, 2019, 03:05:45 AM
 #8

I'm going to assume that he also was paid for the talks and had been working directly or indirectly with the North Korean government. Obviously a clear breach of international and US sanctions.

Here's a little bit more into it, from one of the sources you've provided.

Quote
Pursuant to the IEEPA and Executive Order 13466, United States Persons are prohibited from exporting any goods, services, or technology to the DPRK without a license from Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”).

In or about April 2019, GRIFFITH traveled to the DPRK to attend and present at the “Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference” (the “DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference”).  Despite that the U.S. Department of State had denied GRIFFITH permission to travel to the DPRK, GRIFFITH presented at the DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference, knowing that doing so violated sanctions against the DPRK.  At no time did GRIFFITH obtain permission from OFAC to provide goods, services, or technology to the DPRK.

At the DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference, GRIFFITH and other attendees discussed how the DPRK could use blockchain and cryptocurrency technology to launder money and evade sanctions.  GRIFFITH’s presentation at the DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference had been approved by DPRK officials and focused on, among other things, how blockchain technology, including a “smart contract,” could be used to benefit the DPRK.  GRIFFITH identified several DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference attendees who appeared to work for the North Korean government, and who, during his presentation, asked GRIFFITH specific questions about blockchain and cryptocurrency and prompted discussions on technical aspects of those technologies.

After the DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference, GRIFFITH began formulating plans to facilitate the exchange of cryptocurrency between the DPRK and South Korea, despite knowing that assisting with such an exchange would violate sanctions against the DPRK.  GRIFFITH also encouraged other U.S. citizens to travel to North Korea, including to attend the same DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference the following year.  Finally, GRIFFITH announced his intention to renounce his U.S. citizenship and began researching how to purchase citizenship from other countries.

So yeah, he not only gave the talk but had been formulating plans to facilitate the exchange of crypto between NK and other nations while knowing that this would violate international and US sanctions.

Guy is going to be in a lot of trouble.

If I remember right this was the same regulation they used to shut down the Defense Distributed 3D printed gun files from being distributed. These regulations are not a secret to anyone working within software development. It is a common occurrence to see fine print forbidding the export of certain types of software because of this.


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December 01, 2019, 03:41:43 AM
 #9

They posted the official complaint (It seems like the actual indictment is still sealed and they are calling this indictment looking thing a press release...kind of weird I think?).
https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/press-release/file/1222646/download

Only charge:



Seems kind of like he didn't actually cause any harm:



Also mentioned that someone else is expected to get arrested very soon.

Maybe he just pissed of the wrong FBI field office at the wrong time and they convinced SDNY to make an example of him.  It's either that or we are still missing a lot of the story.  He was in the process of denouncing his citizenship also - not sure which argument that supports more though.




Why does the government suck so much at making pdfs?  It's like they just upgraded from typewriters to whatever the first word processor was and then had an intern scan it.




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December 01, 2019, 02:03:25 PM
 #10

So yeah, he not only gave the talk but had been formulating plans to facilitate the exchange of crypto between NK and other nations while knowing that this would violate international and US sanctions.

Guy is going to be in a lot of trouble.

Could he really be so smart that North Korea couldn't figure out whatever it is his talk was about on their own?  Maybe that doesn't matter I guess, and it's just the principle.  

Wonder if any North Koreans browse BitcoinTalk to look for new ways to launder money and scam crypto for their Dear Leader.

Whats up guys, come say hi.



True. I'm sure Kim and his council can figure out themselves how to launder that Griffith doesn't have to go there. But then its also said that he go there to attention and present at Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference” (the “DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference”) when doing so violated sanctions against the DPRK. That is probably just his violation, FBI proving he really taught them to launder might not be easy.


Well, that's a very possible scenario. Since the early days of bitcoin, it becomes popular being used in fraud and other illegal activities. Now, being blatantly aiding NK that has sanctioned by the US is big trouble. Though we want more adoption but in a more legit ways.,let the underground movement do their own biddings.

 
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December 03, 2019, 01:34:08 AM
Merited by squatz1 (1)
 #11

I could understand trying to help the people of North Korea use cryptocurrency, but an official government-run conference? That's like selling weapons to Stalin so he can more effectively starve his own people. I wonder what made him do this. Maybe he was just so eager to help people who requested his help that he didn't think too much about it. Or maybe he was in it for the money, but if so, this is one hell of a stupid way to try to make money.

He might be one of those /r/LateStageCapitalism far leftists, seeing the DPRK as a lesser evil to the imperialist USA.


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December 03, 2019, 09:33:23 AM
 #12

North korea could just pay their own programmers to build their own token and blockchain technology there are many source code out there in the internet. Maybe the presentation was just principles not implementation, the article said virgil only "advice" crypto and blockchain technology and it's an open source information, the more i read about this guy's achievements the more i feel like we lost a brilliant guy in crypto space.

 
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December 03, 2019, 11:27:20 AM
 #13

He's going to be another victim of the system, just like Ross, a scapegoat punished harsh to keep the rest of the sheep in line.
I'm happy that he had the balls to show them that he's a free person and can go where he wants. This only shows that you aren't free in the US.

You want to visit another country and they tell you that you're not allowed to. WTF is this? The government should paint the Statue of Liberty black because what they're doing is a disgrace to the most basic values like the freedom of speech.
Some of you might see it differently but this is the way I see it. Ethically he didn't do anything wrong, but by going he showed his masters the finger and is now going to pay for it.

 
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December 03, 2019, 11:58:07 AM
 #14

Quote
The office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the FBI announced today that it has arrested and charged Virgil Griffith for violating the U.S. sanctions laws and traveling to North Korea to "deliver a presentation and technical advice on using cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to evade sanctions."

“As alleged, Virgil Griffith provided highly technical information to North Korea, knowing that this information could be used to help North Korea launder money and evade sanctions," U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. "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."
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/u-authorities-arrest-ethereum-research-200109230.html
https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/manhattan-us-attorney-announces-arrest-united-states-citizen-assisting-north-korea


Pretty crazy story.  I guess they warned him not to go, and he did anyway.  Definitely seems like there is more to this story than just talking at a NK Conference...

The fact that he's being charged by the Southern District of NY is very bad news for him, unless he has something that they want he could get a few years (I think it's 20 max, which seems out of the question).

Been down a bit of a rabbit hole reading about this guy, he is clearly a brilliant programmer.  Like insanely smart.  Check out his Resume.



edit:
Official Complaint: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/press-release/file/1222646/download







I think this is a situation of matter after the facts because they could have impounded him from going there should he have boarded the flight from the United States though. I am sure he is not unaware of the sanctions and now that he has been arrested, its now left for either him to prove that the he is not guilty of those allegations or the government position prove that he did which would further confirm that they also have a mole that was present in the said gathering for them to specifically know the impact of the speech he went there to give. Eventually, time will be the deciding factor as to which party would win or they settle out of court.

 
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December 03, 2019, 12:26:49 PM
 #15

He might be a tech geek but is a general stupid to go around teaching oppressive regimes and boast about it. He even was publicly stating that he'd visit North Korea this year too. He could have remotely and anonymously addressed the conference but he chose to ignore any precaution for himself.

 
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December 03, 2019, 08:43:21 PM
 #16

He might be one of those /r/LateStageCapitalism far leftists, seeing the DPRK as a lesser evil to the imperialist USA.

Maybe. The US has probably done more evil than any other country in history, so it's easy to view it as "The Evil Empire". But it's only done so much evil because it's long been by far the most powerful country. If North Korea, Iran, or China were as powerful as the US, they'd do even more evil because they are built upon more evil ideologies, and they are more authoritarian. Unless you can somehow chart a very clear path between your actions and some wider utilitarian good, IMO it's not morally justifiable to help these oppressive regimes.

I'll be interested to see what this guy has to say for himself.

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December 03, 2019, 08:56:08 PM
 #17

Quote from: Tony Stark
An intelligence organization that fears intelligence? Historically, not awesome.

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December 04, 2019, 03:40:19 AM
 #18

Being held by the feds for aiding hostile foreign countries when they know you’re in the process of denouncing your citizenship is one hell of a shitty situation to be in. Stupid decision for such a smart kid, hope he’s able to put this behind him eventually.
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December 04, 2019, 10:51:18 AM
 #19

Hong Kong vs China. Griffith vs United States.     Cool

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