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Before Griffith NoKo Trial US Says Reached At $1M in Crypto, He Says Coinbase for Counsel

By Matthew Russell Lee, Pod Exclusive Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, July 16 – Virgil Griffith, charged with violating North Korea sanctions in connection with a crypto-currency conference there, now faces a bail review proceeding - in person - on July 20. To some, this makes it more likely he may be remanded to prison custody, charged with trying to access $1 million in crypto-currency assets while awaiting trial in September 2021 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

On July 9 the US Attorney's Office wrote to SDNY Judge P. Kevin Castel saying Griffith attempted to access one of his frozen cryptocurrency accounts containing assets of nearly $1 million. They went a hearing, and they want him remanded (jailed). Full letter on Patreon here.

Now on July 13, this: "MEMO ENDORSEMENT as to Virgil Griffith on re: [119] LETTER MOTION filed by USA addressed to Judge P. Kevin Castel from AUSAs Kimberly Ravener and Kyle Wirshba dated July 9, 2021 re: Violation of Bail Conditions. ENDORSEMENT: A bail review proceeding will be held on July 20, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. in Courtroom 11D. The defendant shall appear in person."

Now on July 16, Griffith's lawyers argue that his parents accessed Coinbase, given the run up in ETH price, to pay for counsel: "Given the impending trial date, Mr. Griffith may need to sell certain assets to fund his legal  defense. Mr. Griffith consults closely with his family on financial matters and did so even prior  to his arrest. In connection with their strategy to assess and access necessary resources to fund  his defense, and after consulting counsel, his mother made an online request to access a U.S.- based and regulated cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase... As the Court knows, Mr. Griffith was an employee of the Ethereum Foundation and was paid in  Ether (ETH), a digital asset used on the Ethereum blockchain.4  At the time Mr. Griffith was  arrested in November 2019, he held some ETH and some ETC (a related cryptocurrency)5 in a Coinbase account worth less than $100,000. Since then, one ETH has risen from about $150 to  about $1,900. The government states that the account assets are currently worth almost $1  million. Neither Mr. Griffith nor any family member acting on his behalf has had access to that account since his arrest.  With the September trial date quickly approaching, and given ETH’s current value, Mr. Griffith  has wished to know the exact contents of his Coinbase account and the value of his assets, so he  could consider transferring or selling all of part of his cryptocurrency held there to pay trialrelated expenses. As is their family culture, Mr. Griffith’s father, Dr. Robert Griffith, has been  involved and consulted in matters regarding assets and plans to pay defense counsel." Full letter on Patreon here.

 On February 11, Judge Castel held a proceeding about who knew what before and at the conference Griffith spoke at. A stipulation or agreement has been proposed, essentially that some people know, but the DPRK / Kim government as such did not. Inner City Press live tweeted the first proceeding, here.

 And on February 23 the second proceeding, in two parts, here.

  On June 16, Griffith's lawyers complained that "the defense is still awaiting the completion of the government's review and production... the Government filed a letter correcting a 'mistake' it had made regarding its presentations to the Court about the FBI's first interactions with OFAC... The defense hopes that the prosecutors will honor their commitment to a June 22, 2021 deadline. If not, the defense reserves its right to seek relief from the Court." Watch this site.

 Back in March 12, citing the swearing into the office of US Attorney General of Merrick Garland the day before, the US Attorney's Office has asked for a three week delay for its Classified Information Procedures Act filings, since Garland must sign them on personal knowledge, under US v. Aref. Others might wonder if the change in Administration might result in a changed prosecutorial stance in this and certain other cases.

The case is US v. Griffith, 20-cr-15 (Castel). 


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