On April 25 the U.S. Department of Justice stated two Europeans were charged for allegedly conspiring with a recently sentenced American cryptocurrency researcher in order to help North Korea evade U.S. sanctions.
Alejandro Cao de Benos of Spain, who is the founder of a pro-Pyongyang affinity organization, and Christopher Emms of Britain, a cryptocurrency businessman, were accused of recruiting Virgil Griffith, a researcher, to illegally provide cryptocurrency and blockchain services to North Korea.
Griffith has a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology and was allegedly pushed by Cao de Benos and Emms to travel to North Korea via China in April 2019 to attend their Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference.
At the conference, Emms and Griffith supposedly taught members of North Korea's government and other attendees about using blockchain and cryptocurrency technology. This was done in order to evade sanctions and to launder money.
"Such instruction was all for the purpose of evading U.S. sanctions meant to stop North Korea's hostile nuclear ambitions" and protect American security interests, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.
Cao de Benos is the founder of the Korean Friendship Association, which, according to its website, tries to "show the reality" of North Korea and help peacefully unify the Korean peninsula.
Cao de Benos, 47, and Emms, 30, each face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Griffith was sentenced on April 12 to more than 5 years in prison after pleading guilty to a conspiracy charge.