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The U.S. Department of Justice has accused two Europeans of money laundering for their role in helping the North Korean government host a cryptocurrency conference in 2019. One of the men, Christopher Emms, 30, is a cryptocurrency entrepreneur with a long list. jobs over the years. Both suspects are now at large, according to the DOJ.
On Monday, The DOJ announced the indictment of Alejandro Cao De Benos, 47, a Spanish citizen, and Emms, a British citizen. Cao De Benos and Emms allegedly planned and managed Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference in 2019according to the announcement.
Because of his alleged role in organizing the conference, prosecutors charged him with conspiracy to help the North Korean government evade U.S. government sanctions. Earlier this month, Ethereum programmer and evangelist Virgil Griffith received a five -year prison sentence to give a presentation at the same 2019 cryptocurrency conference. De Benos and Emms were charged as co-conspirators with Griffith.
“The United States will not allow the North Korean regime to use cryptocurrency to circumvent global sanctions designed to thwart the goals of nuclear proliferation and regional destabilization,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsenis was quoted as saying in the announcement. “This indictment, along with the successful prosecution of its co-conspirator, Virgil Griffith, suggests that the department will hold anyone, anywhere, responsible for conspiracy with North Korea to violate U.S. sanctions.”
Emms recruited Griffith for the conference and arranged for his trip, prosecutors allege. The two “provide instructions on how the DPRK can use blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies to launder money and avoid sanctions,” according to the fed.
“Emms opened the DPRK Cryptocurrency Conference by stating that it was a ‘great honor’ to be ‘leading this delegation’ to ‘explain a lot about blockchain… And how you can use this technology in the DPRK.’ Emms introduced Griffith as an ‘early scientist’ at the end of blockchain technology, which, according to Emms, made it ‘possible to transfer money to any country in the world, regardless of what sanctions or fines were imposed in any country,’ ”the announcement read .
Prosecutors included a transcript of Emms ’opening remarks at the 2019 conference in the indictment.
Prosecutors allege that Emms and Cao De Benos, along with Griffith, continued to work with North Korea even after the conference by “seeking to develop potential cryptocurrency infrastructure and equipment in North Korea,” according to the indictment. Griffith planned the symbolic transfer of 1 ETH between South Korea and North Korea, according to authorities.
Cao De benos is Spanish nobility and founder of the Korea Friendship Association, a pro-DPRK affinity organization. He was trustworthy only Westerners are actively employed for the North Korean regime. Emms ’history in the cryptocurrency industry goes back several years and covers a wide range of projects, however.
Emms ’Twitter bio says he is the CEO of TokenKey, which was founded in 2017 and claims to offer“ end-to-end solutions for ICOs and token launches, helping clients around the world get jobs with crypto- and Blockchain. Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer financing, ” according to a press release. Her bio also states that she holds the position of Vice President at Coinstreet Partners, a “decentralized investment banking group,” but only references to her on the company’s website. 2018 news release mentions his name among the list of advisors for the token, without mentioning his position at Coinstreet Partners. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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In 2018, Emms will also be an advisor and promoter for a cryptocurrency called Skycoin. In that YouTube video tweeted out by the late infosec pioneer and cryptocurrency promoter John McAfee, Emms sat in a hot spot — speaking in Puerto Rico — and promoted Skyminer, a mining rig produced by Skycoin.
“With Skyminer, and the antenna on top, this could enter the homes of millions of people around the world who suffer from internet poverty,” Emms said, noting that Skyminers can make the network a “decentralized internet that can be shared without an ISP.”
Also in 2018, Emms said at another cryptocurrency conference in Dubai, where he announced Decentralized Ventures. This is supposed to be a partnership “prepared to support the Maltese government’s plan to create the first fully regulated market for ICOs, distributed ledger technology (DLT) and virtual currency.”
He also works at WaveCrest, a Gibraltar company “driving cryptocurrency debit cards,” according to Emms ’profile on Crunchbase.
Emms has not tweeted since 2018, and his LinkedIn account has been deleted. The official websites of TokenKey and Decentralized Ventures are now down. Twitter Decentralized Ventures account has been inactive since 2018.
Emms is also the founder Catholic Blockchain Association, an organization with a mission of helping “the Catholic Church use the power of the blockchain to empower the poor in developing countries, keep information safe in the long run, and increase financial transparency in Church operations, ensuring funding goes wherever. most needed,” according to the website official of the organization. The actual coverage of this entity is unclear, and links to social accounts are simply redirected back to Emms ’personal accounts.
Cao De Benos and Emms “remained free.” If found guilty, the two could face up to 20 years in prison, according to the DOJ.