- Before his detention in Moscow, Russia, Christopher Emms was released in Saudi due to insufficient evidence
- The consultant was under the Interpol’s “red notice” after police discovered he provided instructions to North Koreans on laundering money through crypto
- Emms might face 20 years in prison for violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act
Reports of the arrest of British citizen Christopher Emms in Moscow on February 21 swiftly circulated due to Interpol’s demand to arrest him. He was under Interpol’s Red Notice board.
Local Russian media Ridus reported the situation only minutes after Emms’ detention.
In a rough translation, the report said, “The United States government claims that Emms and his two associates helped the North Korean government circumvent sanctions imposed by Washington. The US Department of Justice advised government members in Pyongyang to use cryptocurrency for money transfers worldwide. They even held a blockchain conference in the DPRK.”
In April 2022, Emms and Alejandro Cao De Benos, a Spanish partner, guided North Korean hackers on how they could use blockchain and cryptocurrency to launder money and evade sanctions, according to authorities. The two were responsible for organizing the 2019 Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference.
Virgil Griffith, the third wanted man and a former Ethereum developer involved in the conspiracy, was arrested by the FBI in November 2019. He pleaded guilty, and the court ordered him to 63 months in prison. If Emms is transferred to the hands of the FBI, he may be looking at 20 years in prison for getting involved in violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
Previously, Due Process International founder Radha Stirling, who advocates human rights against international enforcers, attested that there was no substantial evidence against Emms: “Precisely because he did nothing wrong; he provided no information to North Korea that doesn’t already appear on the first page of Google.”
Recently, Saudi Arabia declined the extradition request to America and released Emms after receiving a travel ban for eight months. He then traveled to Russia, where he resided for the longest time until his apprehension. He gave the word on the Russia Today TV channel, saying he is “grateful to The Russian Federation” for allowing him to stay in the country until he obtains a permanent legal status.
North Korea Stole the Most Money in Crypto Last Year
Despite how the media portrays the country, North Korea invested more money in the crypto sector in 2022 than in any previous year. The United Nations said that cyber attackers from North Korea have progressed and have been advancing their hacking capabilities with unknown technology that can break through the current most formidable defenses in the crypto sector.
Data firm Chainalysis showed records that North Korean hackers stole $1.22 billion in 2022 and $428 million in 2021.
When the United Nations wanted an answer from the communist nation regarding the hacks, the North Korean authorities denied all involvement with the cyber attacks, especially with the notorious organization, the Lazarus Group.