Alejandro Cao de Benós is wanted for allegedly conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). Specifically, conspiring to violate United States sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (“DPRK” or “North Korea”) by working with an American citizen to illegally provide cryptocurrency and blockchain technology services to the DPRK.
Beginning in or about early 2018, Cao de Benós, the founder of the “Korean Friendship Association,” a pro-DPRK affinity organization, organized the “Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference” for the benefit of the DPRK. Cao de Benós allegedly recruited an American cryptocurrency expert to provide services to the DPRK at the Conference and arranged his travel to the DPRK in April of 2019 for this purpose, in violation of United States sanctions. Cao de Benós allegedly coordinated approval from the DPRK government for the expert's participation in the Conference and continued to conspire afterwards to include holding a second cryptocurrency conference in the DPRK in 2020. Cao de Benós allegedly took steps in an effort to conceal these activities, and the expert's role in the conspiracy, from United States authorities. The expert was arrested by United States authorities in November of 2019, disrupting the scheme and the second conference planned for 2020. At no time did Cao de Benós, or co-conspirator Christopher Douglas Emms, obtain permission from the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”), to provide goods, services, or technology to the DPRK, as is required by law.
A federal arrest warrant was issued for Cao de Benós in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York, New York, New York, on January 27, 2022, after he was charged with Conspiracy to Violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).