Ethereum Developer Virgil Griffith Remanded In Custody For Violating Bail Terms By Accessing Coinbase Wallet
Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith has been remanded in custody. He's said to have reportedly violated the terms of his bail, per reports from Inner City Press. Griffith was granted bail in December 2019.
Griffith May Be In Jail Until His Trial In September
The remand order was given after a federal judge found out that he had violated the terms of his bail by seeking access to his Ethereum assets held by exchange Coinbase in May 2021.
Griffith, a former researcher with the Ethereum Foundation, will likely spend the next two months in jail as he is scheduled to be tried on September 21. If found guilty, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
Griffith is said to have allegedly assisted North Korea in laundering money through cryptocurrency in order to avoid US sanctions. The developer was arrested in November 2019.
Although he was denied bail initially, he was finally granted a bond order for $1 million in December 2019. Griffith's father reportedly offered his house worth $835,000 as security for bond. His sister also secured the bond with her property.
The developer was granted bail on the condition that he would not access his accounts and would remain under house arrest with his parents in Alabama.
However, he is said to have violated these bail terms when he tried to access his cryptocurrency account by contacting Coinbase to request the removal of account security functions.
Although Griffith's lawyers claimed the attempt to access the account on Coinbase was made by proxy. The lawyers argue that his family only contacted Coinbase to ascertain if the assets in Griffith's account could cover his legal fees. The lawyers said,
“Given the impending trial date, Mr. Griffith may need to sell certain assets to fund his legal defense…In connection with their strategy to assess and access necessary resources to fund his defense, and after consulting counsel, his mother made an online request to access a US-based and regulated cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase…”
US District Judge P. Kevin Castel said Griffith's attempt to access the assets suggested a flight risk since the assets Griffith held had surged in value into the $1 million range.
Virgil Griffith’s Failed Attempt To Dismiss Case
Griffith had previously filed a motion to dismiss the conspiracy charges in October 2020. He claimed that his April 2019 conference presentation consisted of public information that was widely available. Therefore he did not provide a service to North Korean officials. This argument was not accepted as the US government labeled the statement as absurd.
Griffith’s case also gained support from the Crypto community, who championed his release. Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin had defended and declared his solidarity with Virgil Griffith last year. He said that Griffith didn't do any wrong as he only tutored in his presentation.