ETH developer Virgil Griffith back in jail after allegedly checking Coinbase account
Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith has violated the terms of his bail and has been taken into custody after he allegedly accessed his cryptocurrency account.
The remand order came from U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel after Griffith reportedly sought to access Ethereum assets held by Coinbase in May.
The Ethereum Foundation researcher will likely spend the next two months behind bars. He is scheduled to be tried on September 21 on charges of conspiracy to violate sanctions with North Korea and faces up to 20 years inside.
According to Law360, Judge Castel’s main concern was flight risk since the assets Griffith held had jumped in value into the $1 million range, which may have influenced his decision to check the wallet, the judge stated.
Prosecutors sought remand on July 9, claiming that Griffith violated bail terms that sharply restrict his internet use. He allegedly accessed Coinbase to contact the exchange to request the removal of account security functions reportedly stating: “I’m going to need the [two-factor authentication] removed as the FBI took my devices away.”
Defense lawyers claimed the attempt to access Coinbase was made after consulting his counsel, adding that it was his family in Alabama that made the attempt on his behalf.
Griffith was charged and indicted on January 7, 2020, after his arrest in November 2019 for conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. He was initially denied bail but was finally granted a bond order for $1 million at the end of December 2019.
Federal authorities believe he assisted North Korea’s efforts to launder money using cryptocurrency to avoid U.S. sanctions after he attended a blockchain conference in Pyongyang in April 2019.
In October 2020, Griffith filed a motion to dismiss the conspiracy charges, claiming that his April 2019 conference presentation consisted of widely available public information, therefore he was not providing a “service” to North Korean officials. The following month, lawyers representing the U.S. government labeled the argument “absurd”.