South Korean law enforcement agents have reportedly arrested Kang Jong-hyun – the owner of the leading cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb.
Prosecutors claim he had manipulated stock prices and embezzled nearly $50 million.
Facing Possible Prison Time
According to local coverage, Kang Jong-hyun – thought to be the actual owner of Bithumb – was detained today (February 2) in South Korea. The authorities issued an arrest warrant against him a week ago on accusations that he violated the country’s financial laws, manipulated stock prices, and stole 60 billion won (almost $50 million).
The police officers also detained Jo Mo – a person who was part of Kang’s inner cycle and a representative of the cryptocurrency platform.
It is worth noting that another Bithumb executive supposedly destroyed key evidence, including hard disks and CCTV recordings, that could have shed more light on the case. He recently received a prison sentence.
The prosecution further maintained that the exchange manipulated the valuation of a coin listed on the trading venue. This prompted a thorough investigation and raiding of the company’s headquarters in the capital Seoul.
Kang has previously denied all accusations against him. His name, though, is veiled in mystery. The 41-year-old has registered most of his businesses, real estate, and numerous vehicles in his sibling’s name – Kang Ji-yeon, triggering an investigation against her, too.
Local media outlets have recently indicated that the mysterious man is dating Park Min-young (one of the most famous Korean actresses).
Bithumb’s Ex-Chairman Found Not Guilty
The Seoul Central District Court ruled last month that Lee Jung-hoon – the former Chairman of the exchange – has not committed fraud and thus evaded eight years in prison.
He was accused of breaching the Act on the Aggravated Punishment Of Specific Economic Crimes and embezzling more than $87 million from the Chairman of BK Group – Kim Byung-gun – during negotiations regarding the takeover of Bithumb in 2018.
“It cannot be admitted that the stock trading proceeds were disposed of due to a mistake caused by fraudulent acts, such as the facts of the prosecution, based only on the evidence submitted by the prosecutor,” the judge said.
Park Mo – the Vice President of Vidente (the largest shareholder of Bithumb) – was also under investigation on charges of embezzlement and manipulation of stock prices. However, he was found dead at the end of last year in front of his home in Seoul. The initial investigation found no signs of potential murder, meaning Mo might have committed suicide.
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