(Bloomberg) -- A cryptocurrency expert pleaded guilty to helping North Korea evade U.S. sanctions just before he was to go to trial.

Virgil Griffith, a Ethereum Foundation cryptocurrency scientist, had been scheduled to go on trial Monday. But he instead appeared before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel in Manhattan and admitted to one count of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, according to court records. 

Griffith is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 18.

While living in Singapore, Griffith attended a April 2019 blockchain and cryptocurrency conference in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang despite specific State Department warnings. He was arrested in November 2019 on charges of providing technical blockchain information to the regime of dictator Kim Jong Un that the Justice Department said could be used to help the country launder money and evade sanctions. 

Griffith was the subject of a 2008 New York Times Magazine profile that described him as a “cult hacker” and dubbed him the “Internet Man of Mystery.“ 

The case is U.S. v. Griffith, 20-cr-00015, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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