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British national on FBI's most wanted list for North Korean sanction breach

British national on FBI's most wanted list for North Korean sanction breach

British National Chris Emms is currently being held in Saudi Arabia, while he fights extradition to the United States, accused of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the alleged violation of US sanctions against North Korea.

The British cryptocurrency expert has been placed on the FBI’s most wanted criminals list after being accused of allegedly breaking sanctions against North Korea after attending a cryptocurrency conference in Pyongyang in 2019.

According to the FBI Chris Emms is wanted for allegedly conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). This specifically related to his activities in North Korea, with the FBI claiming Emms conspired to violate United States sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, “working with an American citizen to illegally provide cryptocurrency and blockchain technology services to the DPRK”. 

A federal arrest warrant was issued for Emms on January 27th, 2022, despite Emms claiming the foreign office guidance saying it was safe to attend the event. Also listed on the FBI’s most wanted list for the alleged sanctions breach is Spanish national Alejandro Cao de Benós, who Emms said asked him to attend the conference.

Emms noted in a statement provided to CryptoDaily:

“In 2018, I was travelling frequently and presenting all over the world almost every other week. When Spanish national Alejandro Cao de Benos asked me to go to North Korea for another conference, I checked the FCDO travel advice for North Korea which indicated no issues and so I agreed to attend. With Trump’s meetings, it also appeared the relationship between the countries was improving. It was an uneventful few days with like minded people, just like any other[...] I was asked to speak briefly about topics I have spoken about publicly before, the content was nothing new or secret and I had absolutely no idea that I could ever be accused of any wrongdoing”.

According to Emms he telephoned the British Intelligence Services hotline to clarify anything that was of interest to them, after he saw that American citizen Virgil Griffith was being pursued by the FBI for breaching US sanctions, however he noted that they were not interested in pursuing the matter. 

“I did not perform any organisation of the event, I did not have authority to do so and was careful not to do so” Emms maintains.

Radha Stirling who is representing Emms noted:

 “I could never advise anyone to surrender to a foreign jurisdiction that has no legal authority to prosecute them. This would be endorsing an overreach of powers and the extraterritorial application of laws to foreign nationals who are not subject to them. 

Emms faces up to 20 years in prison and extensive fines should he be found guilty.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.