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Griffith is expected to spend the next two months in jail until his September trial.
Virgil Griffith, an Ethereum engineer, has been arrested after reportedly accessing his cryptocurrency account in violation of his bail terms.
Griffith allegedly tried to gain access to Ethereum assets stored by Coinbase in May, prompting the remand order from US District Judge P. Kevin Castel.
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.
On July 9, prosecutors requested remand, claiming Griffith had broken bail conditions that severely limited his internet usage. He allegedly used Coinbase to contact the exchange and request that account security functions be deactivated, purportedly saying, “I’m going to need the [two-factor authentication] removed as the FBI took my gadgets away.”
Defense lawyers said that the attempt to gain access to Coinbase was done after conferring with his attorney, and that his relatives in Alabama was the one who made the attempt on his behalf.
Griffith was charged and indicted for conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act on January 7, 2020, following his detention in November 2019. He was first denied bail, but at the end of December 2019, he was granted a bond order for $1 million.
After attending a blockchain conference in Pyongyang in April 2019, federal authorities suspect he aided North Korea’s efforts to launder money using cryptocurrencies to dodge US sanctions.
Griffith submitted a motion to dismiss the conspiracy charges in October 2020, stating that his April 2019 conference presentation was based on publicly available information and hence he was not delivering a “service” to North Korean officials. The argument was branded “absurd” by lawyers for the US government the next month.