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Virgil Griffith Pleads Guilty To North Korea Sanctions Violation Conspiracy On Morning of Trial

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

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Sept 27 – Virgil Griffith, charged with violating North Korea sanctions in connection with a crypto-currency conference there and facing a September 27 trial, pleaded guilty in the morning and was remanded to jail.

  His sentencing is set for January 18, 2022 with a guideline of 63 to 78 months. He has agreed to forfeiture and, ironically, docketed after the guilty plea is an order allowing his lawyers to take their fees out of his Coinbase accounts, 582b97ccd7afbl018834f232 and 52fbe72ld358f6dda000010a.  Photo here. Podcast here.

Back on July 20 he faced a bail review proceeding - in person. He lost and was remanded, perhaps having an impact on the September 27 guilty plea. Inner City Press was there, and live tweeted, here and below (podcast here)

 On September 14, in the run up to the trial  starting on September 27, there was a final pre-trial conference replete with rulings. Inner City Press live tweeted it here.

  On September 22, Judge Castel denied Griffith's sealed motion to depose the Ethereum Foundation's general counsel Tju Liang Chua, or to allow him to testify by video. Order on Patreon here. On other grounds - late produced discovery - Griffith's lawyers  asked for a week continuance in the trial.

On September 23, initially without Griffith present, Judge Castel held a hearing then denied the request for delay. Inner City Press live tweeted it here.

On September 26, the Sunday before the trial starts on Monday, the US Attorney's Office docketed their opposition to the testimony of Ethereum's General Counsel, and e-mails of Virgil Griffith, filing on DocumentCloud here. Song here

The motion included: "The defendant served as one of the highest-ranking individuals in the Ethereum Foundation, as “Head of Special Projects,” and worked to pursue the DPRK node in coordination with the organization’s founder and its Executive Director.... on August 7, 2018, the defendant forwarded a proposal from CC-4 to place an Ethereum node inside the DPRK to the founder of the Ethereum Foundation, and another Foundation employee. See GX 3013 (attached hereto as Exhibit 5). The next day, on August 8, 2018, Griffith told another Ethereum colleague, “Let me ask Tju Liang [that is, the proposed Deponent] as well as a DPRK specialist whether if it’s possible to do this without violating sanctions. Will update you both.” When the colleague emphasized, “It can’t be a sanction workaround loophole thing either,” Griffith responded, “I’ll see what the lawyer says.” This record of Griffith’s close coordination with the leaders of the Ethereum Foundation to pursue the node, along with his decision to seek advice from Ethereum’s own in-house General Counsel, make clear that Griffith was not acting solely in his personal capacity when he contacted the proposed Deponent."

On Saturday, Griffith's lawyer belatedly docketed their motion, on Patreon here.

From September 23: Assistant US Attorney: There is no basis for an adjournment of the trial. They are not requesting to exclude, it seems.  Judge Castel: The parties agreed the US would make trial exhibit available on a rolling basis up to Sept 17? AUSA: We did not agree to end then

 It's 3:15 pm and... "It's the MCC, I have Virgil here."

Virgil: Hello. Judge Castel: Welcome.

Inner City Press will cover the sentencing.

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


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