Alejandro Cao de Benós, a Spanish man known for his involvement with North Korea, has been arrested in Madrid for allegedly teaching the country how to use cryptocurrencies to bypass US sanctions. Cao de Benós, who is the president and founder of the Korean Friendship Association, faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The arrest came after Interpol informed Spanish authorities about Cao de Benós’ presence in the country. He is accused of conspiring with Virgil Griffith, a US citizen and cryptocurrency expert, to provide cryptocurrency and blockchain technology services to North Korea, which would evade US sanctions.

Cao de Benós reportedly recruited Griffith and arranged his trip to Pyongyang’s Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference in April 2019, where Griffith provided advice on how North Korea could utilize blockchain and cryptocurrencies to evade sanctions. Griffith himself was convicted in 2022 and sentenced to 63 months in jail, along with a $100,000 fine, for his involvement.

Cao de Benós denies the allegations against him and claims that they are a result of political pressure and persecution to impede his efforts to foster friendship between North Korea and the rest of the world. He has a long history of involvement with North Korea, acting as a representative for the country and promoting its culture and history.

The Growing Concerns Surrounding Illicit Use of Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies have attracted attention as potential tools for evading sanctions due to their decentralized and pseudonymous nature. These characteristics make it challenging for authorities to track and control transactions. However, governments around the world have been increasingly focused on implementing regulations and oversight on cryptocurrency activities to prevent their misuse.

The arrest of Cao de Benós highlights the ongoing efforts of authorities to combat the illicit use of cryptocurrencies. It also serves as a reminder of the geopolitical implications that cryptocurrency technology can have, particularly in regions where economic sanctions are in place.

In conclusion, the arrest of Alejandro Cao de Benós underscores the growing concerns surrounding the illicit use of cryptocurrencies. As governments tighten regulations and increase oversight in the crypto space, it becomes increasingly challenging to exploit cryptocurrencies for illicit purposes.

By Joane

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