Spanish Man Arrested in Madrid for Allegedly Assisting North Korea in Evading US Sanctions Using Cryptocurrencies.

In a significant development, a Spanish man has been arrested in Madrid for allegedly aiding North Korea in evading U.S. sanctions through the illicit use of cryptocurrencies. The arrest underscores the global challenges of regulating financial transactions in the digital realm and addressing potential threats to international sanctions.

Spanish Man Arrested in Madrid for Allegedly Assisting North Korea in Evading US Sanctions Using Cryptocurrencies.

Alejandro Cao de Benós, a Spanish man, has been apprehended in Madrid for allegedly instructing North Koreans on evading US sanctions through cryptocurrencies, implicating him in a North Korea crypto in scheme. The arrest came after Interpol alerted Spanish authorities of his possible presence in Spain. Cao de Benós was apprehended at a Madrid train station and may have used false documentation.

US authorities issued an arrest warrant for Cao de Benós in 2022, alleging that he collaborated with a US citizen to provide cryptocurrency and blockchain services to North Korea in violation of US laws. The FBI wanted list states that Cao de Benós founded the Korean Friendship Association.

The Spanish police have revealed that Cao de Benós is accused of organizing cryptocurrency and blockchain conferences in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, in 2018. These conferences were allegedly aimed at bypassing the US-imposed sanctions. If convicted, Cao de Benós could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in the US.

It is worth noting that Virgil Griffiths, the US citizen involved in the case, was sentenced to 63 months in jail and fined $100,000 in 2022 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Powers Act. The US Office of Public Affairs stated that Griffiths knew North Korea could use the services provided to evade sanctions and fund illicit activities, including its nuclear weapons program.

Cao de Benós, however, vehemently denies the accusations. In a statement released on Saturday, he declared the allegations “totally false” and refuted any connection with Virgil Griffiths.

North Korea has been known to exploit cryptocurrencies to circumvent sanctions. The country’s hackers have reportedly stolen billions of dollars in cryptocurrency over the years, using tactics such as impersonating recruiters, IT workers, and government officials. Last year, hackers with ties to North Korea committed their largest crypto theft, amounting to $630 million, according to a confidential UN report.

The case involving Cao de Benós highlights the ongoing efforts by authorities worldwide to curb illicit activities involving cryptocurrencies and prevent the evasion of international sanctions.

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