Days after Ethereum’s Research Scientist, Virgil Griffith, was arrested by the FBI, the Ethereum Foundation has distanced itself from the whole controversy. According to a statement released by the Foundation to Vice, the decision by Griffith to travel to North Korea was purely personal. It added that the Foundation was not represented in any capacity at the conference. The statement read,
“The Foundation is aware of the recent charges filed against Virgil Griffith. We can confirm that the Foundation was not represented in any capacity at the events outlined in the Justice Department’s filing and that the Foundation neither approved nor supported any such travel, which was a personal matter. We are continuing to monitor the situation as it develops.”
According to the authorities, Griffith was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport on 28 November and is now set to appear before Federal Court. The researcher allegedly traveled to one of the “United States’ foremost adversaries,” North Korea, to attend and present a paper at the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference, despite the U.S. Department of State denying any permission for the same.
Additionally, the Ethereum Foundation member is also accused of 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.
According to a statement released by the US Attorney’s Office, Griffith allegedly taught his audience how to use blockchain technology to evade sanctions.
Following the arrest, FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge, William F. Sweeney Jr., stated,
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“We cannot allow anyone to evade sanctions, because the consequences of North Korea obtaining funding, technology, and information to further its desire to build nuclear weapons put the world at risk. It’s even more egregious that a U.S. citizen allegedly chose to aid our adversary.”
Griffth is being charged with conspiring to violate the IEEPA, which carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison.