A Spanish aristocrat and a British bitcoin entrepreneur who was once based in Gibraltar have been placed on the FBI’s most wanted listed over their alleged links to North Korea.
Alejandro Cao de Benós, 47 and Christopher Emms, 30, are separately accused of breaking sanctions imposed by the US to “illegally provide cryptocurrency and blockchain services to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),” according to the notice issued by the FBI.
Here’s what we know about them.
Far from being a secretive character, Cao de Benós, who comes from an aristocratic Spanish family, is well known as the only westerner to officially work for the North Korea’s notorious regime.
The 47-year-old from Barcelona has described himself as a ‘special representative’ of the regime and has been making headlines in Spain as a propagandist of the regime since founding the Korean Friendship Association.
When not working as a one-man publicity machine for North Korea abroad or making frequent trips to the country, he worked as an IT consultant.
Then in 2016 when he was arrested for suspected arms trafficking, after two unregistered pistols were discovered at his home during a police raid.
But the reason for his appearance on the FBI most wanted list is for his alleged involvement in organising cryptocurrency conferences in Pyongyang along with ‘co-conspirator’ Christopher Emms.
Emms gave a keynote speech at the 2019 conference, the contents of which are included in the indictment by US prosecutors.
It is alleged that Emms and Cao de Benós ‘recruited’ American researcher Virgil Griffith to provide cryptocurrency and blockchain technology services to North Korea in breach of US sanctions.
Griffith was convicted last month of breaching US sanctions and was jailed for five years and fined $100,000.
Meanwhile Emms, originally from Reigate in Surrey, has founded various crypto and Blockchain consultancies within the last five years and moved around from Gibraltar to Malta to the UAE.
He was reportedly arrested in February in Saudi Arabia where the US have applied for extradiction.
“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 to provide goods, services, or technology to the DPRK, as is required by law,” said the FBI statement.
- WATCH: This is the moment Britain’s most wanted woman was caught by police while walking her dogs in Spain
- ‘He could be your neighbour’: Hunt for 12 most wanted British fugitives believed to be hiding out in Spain