Spaniard Alejandro Cao de Benos was arrested for holding a blockchain conference for North Koreans

A Spanish citizen was arrested in his homeland for organizing a conference on blockchain and cryptocurrencies in the DPRK. The event could help North Korea evade sanctions, law enforcement officials believe.

Alejandro Cao de Benos was detained at the Madrid Puerta de Atocha train station. According to the US Department of Justice, in April 2019, Benos demonstrated to North Korean officials how the state could use the latest technology to launder money and evade international sanctions.. Before his arrest, the Spaniard was on the list of the most wanted criminals of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for more than a year and was hiding in Barcelona under an assumed name..

A supporter of the North Korean regime, Benos founded the Korea Friendship Association in 2000 and has also appeared in documentaries about the DPRK.. The US Department of Justice claims that the Spaniard began planning a conference on blockchain in North Korea back in 2018. Among the participants was former Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith, who was also arrested for his participation in the event.. Back in 2022, the court sentenced Griffith to five years in prison and ordered him to pay a fine of $100,000.

On Friday, December 1, Benos appeared before the High Court of Spain. He denied the accusations of US prosecutors, calling the claims false. The man faces up to 20 years in a US prison, but the US has not yet begun the extradition process.

In May, the US government said that cyberattacks and theft of cryptocurrencies have become the main source of income for North Korean authorities to finance weapons programs.