The FBI has issued an arrest warrant for Catalan businessman Alejandro Cao de Benós, accusing him of "conspiring to violate United States sanctions on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea by working with a US citizen to illegally provide cryptocurrency and blockchain technology services to the DPRK."
On the US intelligence agency's most wanted list Cao de Benós is accused of organizing the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference and allegedly recruiting "an American cryptocurrency expert to provide services to the DPRK at the conference" as well as arranging his travel to North Korea in April 2019 "for this purpose, in violation of United States sanctions."
Cao de Benós is described as known to live in Spain and to go by the names Cho Son-il and Jo Seon Il, as well as his own full name, Alejandro Cao de Benós de Les y Pérez.
The FBI has asked that anyone with information contact the FBI or the nearest US embassy or consulate and warned that their suspect "should be considered an international flight risk." A British man, Christopher Douglas Emms, is accused of being a co-conspirator.
"I don't know why everyone is looking for me"
Cao de Benós reacted to the arrest warrant on Twitter on Monday, writing in Spanish: "I don't know why everyone is looking for me today."
"I'm in Jerusalem, next to Golgotha eating a falafel durum," he added, alongside a picture of the Middle Eastern delicacy.
On his Twitter profile, which features a prominent image of a North Korean military parade, Cao de Benós describes himself as the regime's "Special Delegate - Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries."
For decades, the businessman who resides in the southern Catalan city of Tarragona, has been an outspoken supporter of North Korea, founding the Korea Friendship Association in 2000 and organizing tours to the country.
In 2020, The Mole: Undercover in North Korea, a documentary miniseries written and directed by Danish filmmaker Mads Brügger, featured Cao de Benós looking for possible investors willing to invest in North Korea, despite the international economic sanctions against the country. Cao de Benós has claimed that he was acting.