Spanish authorities have detained Alejandro Cao de Benos, a Spanish aristocrat, on allegations that he ran a crypto scheme and recruited Ethereum (ETH) researcher Virgil Griffith to help North Korea evade international sanctions.
According to Reuters, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) had previously accused De Benos, founder of a pro-Pyongyang organization, of engaging in illegal activities related to crypto and blockchain technology services for North Korea.
According to the General Directorate of the National Police, in mid-October, the agents of the Fugitive Location Group received information from Interpol indicating that the person claimed by the US could be in Spain.
The facts for which the FBI ordered his arrest last May date back to 2018, when the fugitive founded the “Friendship Association with North Korea.”
According to the FBI, Benos facilitated the trip to North Korea of Virgil Griffith, the former developer of the Ethereum cryptocurrency, who pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to help North Korea. to evade sanctions and was sentenced in the US to more than five years in prison and a fine of $100,000.
Key Figure in North Korea Crypto Scheme Sentenced to Prison
In 2022, Virgil Griffith was sentenced by a US court to five years and three months in prison for his role in conspiring to help North Korea evade US sanctions using cryptocurrency. De Benos is alleged to have played a pivotal role in recruiting Griffith for these activities.
In response to the US allegations, De Benos took to social media platform X (formerly Twitter) to describe the allegations against him as false. de Beños stated that upon his arrival at the Puerta de Atocha AVE station, Madrid, on Thursday, November 30, 2023, he was approached by agents of the Pasiano National Police who detained him based on an FBI arrest warrant issued. via Interpol.
De Benos firmly denied any involvement in hiring or soliciting the services of crypto researcher Virgil Griffith and maintained that there was no evidence to support such claims. According to Spanish national police, they received information indicating that De Benos was in Barcelona under a false identity and was planning to travel to Madrid by train.
Extradition Process Started
On Friday, De Benos appeared before a Supreme Court judge who released him unconditionally pending the extradition process, a judicial source confirmed to Reuters.
The source also explained that the United States must formalize the extradition request and provide the necessary documentation for the process to move forward. de Benos further stated on the matter: “There is no extradition. The American accusation, in addition to being false, does not exist in Spain.”
The identities of De Benos’ legal representatives have not yet been identified. If convicted, De Benos could face up to 20 years in prison. However, the extradition process and subsequent legal procedures must occur before a final decision is made.
The global cryptocurrency market has reached an important milestone: its market capitalization exceeds $1.5 trillion. According to data from CoinGecko, this represents a change of 2.63% in the last 24 hours and a substantial change of 78.18% compared to the market cap from a year ago. Bitcoin (BTC), the pioneering cryptocurrency, continues to play a dominant role in the market. Today, Bitcoin’s market capitalization stands at an impressive $814 billion, representing 51.01% of the total cryptocurrency market.
By Audy Castaneda