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Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith rendered ineligible for export privileges

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Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith, currently serving a five-year prison sentence, has been issued a 10-year export privilege bar by the Department of Commerce, rendering him ineligible for export privileges until April 12, 2032.

The export privilege bar comes as a consequence of Griffith’s actions and further impacts his involvement in international trade and transactions.

In the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, on April 12, 2022, Virgil Griffith was found guilty of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). The charges against Griffith included exporting services to North Korea without proper authorization from the Department of Treasury and evading US sanctions on North Korea. 

The former developer for the Ethereum foundation and “Internet Man of Mystery,” according to The New York Times Magazine, began his trial in 2021. US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman accused Griffith of knowingly sharing technical information with North Korea that could aid in money laundering and evading sanctions, according to a statement.

Berman emphasized that Griffith’s actions posed a threat to the sanctions established by Congress and the president to exert maximum pressure on North Korea’s hazardous regime. The criminal complaint further alleged that Griffith entered the country in April 2019 without U.S. approval, despite being cautioned against traveling to North Korea.

As a consequence of his conviction, Griffith has been sentenced to 63 months of confinement, followed by three years of supervised release. Additionally, he is required to pay a $100 assessment and a criminal fine of $100,000.

Denial of export privileges

According to the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA), a person’s export privileges can be denied for up to ten years if they have been convicted of certain offenses, including violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). This denial of export privileges may also result in the revocation of any licenses or authorizations issued by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). 

In the case of Virgil Griffith, BIS received notice of his conviction for IEEPA violation and provided him with the chance to make a written submission, which has been received and considered by BIS.

John Sonderman, the director of the Office of Export Enforcement, responded to this submission by saying:

“Based upon my review of the record, including Griffith’s submission, and consultation with BIS’s Office of Exporter Services, and the facts available to BIS, I have decided to deny Griffith’s export privileges under the Regulations for a period of ten years from the data of Griffith’s conviction.”

John Sonderman, the director of the Office of Export Enforcement

This action will prohibit his direct or indirect participation in any transaction involving commodities, software, or technology subject to U.S. export regulations, essentially, barring his export privileges as a US citizen.

In his court experience last year, Griffith relates, “I’ve learned my lesson. I am still profoundly embarrassed that I am here, and of what I have done.”

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