USA has accused the Spanish activist Alejandro Cao de Benos of having helped the regime of North Korea circumvent international economic sanctions through the use of cryptocurrencies.
The Federal Prosecutor’s Office announced this Monday that files charges against Cao de Benós and against the British citizen Christopher Emms. Both would have attended the Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference of Pyongyang, where they would have provided information to the attendees on how to avoid these sanctions. Blockchain technology makes it possible to create a decentralized and private network which, in turn, makes it difficult for authorities to trace.
Originally from Tarragona, the controversial Cao de Benós is known for defending, at least since 1990, the interests of the regime that now controls the dictator with an iron hand Kim Jong Un. A descendant of Spanish aristocracy linked to the military far right, Cao de Benós was a soldier before becoming North Korea’s first Western representative. The documentary ‘Infiltration‘ (Mads Brügger, 2020), linked this Spanish citizen to an alleged international arms and drug trafficking network.
Cyber scams to finance the regime
The presentation of these charges comes after last April 12 the American investigator Virgil Griffith, a cryptography specialist, was sentenced to five years and three months in prison for violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act by traveling to the North Korean capital to provide his services even without permission from the State Department. “The most important feature of blockchains is that they are open. And North Korea cannot stand by, whatever the US or the UN says,” he noted then.
Recently, Washington accused the North Korean cybercriminal group Lazarus of being behind the attack on the crypto project Axie Infinity’s Ronin Bridge with which some 600 million dollars in cryptocurrencies were stolen, being the largest theft of its kind to date. It is not something casual. The UN has accused Pyongyang of resorting to this type of scam and computer incursions to get hold of money that is then used to finance North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic program.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.