The FBI has issued this Monday a search and arrest warrant against the Catalan Alejandro Cao de Benós, whom he accuses of conspiring together with a US citizen to help North Korea to evade some of the economic sanctions imposed by the US, for which he could spend up to 20 years in a US prison.

Cao de Benós, founder of the Friends of Korea organization and supporter of the Kim Jong-un regime, allegedly recruited a “cryptocurrency expert” to provide services to the North Korean government during a technology conference in Pyongyang that he organized in 2018, says the FBI.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation details that the Catalan facilitated the trip of the American expert Virgil Griffith to the Asian country to attend the conference and that he organized a second event on the subject in 2020.

Griffith, a former developer of the Ethereum cryptocurrency, pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to help North Korea evade sanctions and was sentenced in the US to more than five years in jail and fined $100,000.

The FBI accuses Cao de Benós of taking “measures to hide these activities from the US authorities.”

Cao de Benós published a message on his Twitter account on Monday in which he claims not to know why he is being sought.

“I don’t know why everyone is looking for me today. I’m in Jerusalem, next to Golgotha, eating a durum of falafel,” he wrote next to a photo of the durum.

The Catalan would also have had the help of a British citizen, Christopher Douglas Emms, who was charged along with Cao de Benós last April by the New York Southern District Prosecutor’s Office for “conspiring” with Griffith to “illegally supply cryptocurrencies and services with blockchain technology” to Pyongyang.

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a federal arrest warrant in late January against Cao de Benós for allegedly conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), which allows The US establish economic sanctions against countries that “pose a threat”.

Cao de Benós, 47, who works as an unofficial representative of North Korea in Spain, faces a maximum of 20 years in prison in the United States for the crimes of which he is accused, as does Emms.

The Catalan, who has an aristocratic origin, has previously had problems with the Spanish justice for being allegedly involved in an arms trafficking plot that was dismantled six years ago.

Alejandro Cao de Benós has identified himself for twenty years as a special delegate of the Ministry of Cultural Relations with Foreigners of the North Korean government. He is from Tarragona and has been working for the North Korean government for years.

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