The government’s ‘virtual currency partner’ Christopher Emms, now wanted by the FBI for teaching North Korea blockchain money laundering while operating in Malta and currently seeking asylum in Russia, is still active in Malta through a 50% shareholding in Green Goblin, a legal and corporate service company specialising in the medicinal cannabis industry.
Emms co-founded the company in 2018 when he claimed to be spearheading Malta’s ‘Blockchain Island’ fever with Gianluca Caruana Curran, a lawyer currently representing Yorgen Fenech, accused of masterminding the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Emms and Caruana Curran each still own 50% of the company – Emms through a company he owns in Gibraltar, Emms Ventures Limited.
Emms resigned from his directorship of the Maltese cannabis consultancy in August 2020, after his ill-fated participation in the 2019 Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference, landing him on the FBI’s wanted list.
Alleged violations against US sanctions at the conference also led to the highly-publicised arrest and indictment of Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith.
Emms is currently wanted in the US where he is facing up to 20 years in prison for allegedly teaching North Korean government functionaries at the conference how to use blockchain to launder money and evade US sanctions – crimes he allegedly perpetrated while he was active during Malta’s Blockchain Island frenzy.
Emms was then placed on the FBI’s wanted list for teaching the technology to North Korea – has said he is now seeking political asylum in Russia.
Emms headed Decentralized Ventures, which was “set up to support the Maltese government’s plans to create the world’s first fully regulated market for ICOs, distributed ledger technology and virtual currencies”.
Emms now in Russia saying crypto can render sanctions ‘totally ineffective’
But a year after setting up the ’partnership’ with the Maltese government, Emms was in North Korea pitching to the dictatorship’s powers that be, which made him a wanted man by the FBI. He is now claiming to be seeking political asylum in Russia.
On his LinkedIn profile, Emms is currently enthusing about how the Central Bank of Russia is adopting cryptocurrencies: “This could be the first time that a state has successfully implemented crypto and blockchain tech for payments on a mass scale, also rendering US-led sanctions totally ineffective!”
Emms had set up shop and was operating from Malta, apparently in particular during the 2018-2019 ‘grandfathering period’, when cryptocurrency oversight was lax, and which had drawn companies such as Binance to Malta for a while.
In that period, such operations were essentially exempt from the need for authorisation or even the need to comply with anti-money laundering laws.
According to the US Department of Justice, “In his own sales pitch, Emms allegedly advised North Korean officials that cryptocurrency technology made it ‘possible to transfer money across any country in the world regardless of what sanctions or any penalties that are put on any country’.”
At the time in which he was operating in Malta, Emms was accused by the FBI of “conspiring to violate economic sanctions imposed on North Korea, to teach and advise members of the North Korean government on cutting-edge cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, all to evade US sanctions meant to stop North Korea’s hostile nuclear ambitions”.
They also allegedly proposed plans to create specialised ‘smart contracts’ to serve the DPRK’s unique interests and mapped out cryptocurrency transactions designed to evade and avoid US sanctions, including diagramming such transactions on a whiteboard for the North Korean audience.
These are the industries and the type of person that captivates the interest of our adventurist government. Birds of a feather flock together.
A situation which should make the local lawyer extremely proud, isn’t it!
If there’s enough money in it, it certainly will, of course!!
This makes me think that the old ties to NK, established by Mintoff himself, just as he did to the PRC, are still working. I never came across of anything to know how the North Koreans see Malta, but the article itself gives one at least some presumption.