South Korean Prosecutors Seeking 8-Year Sentence for Ex-Bithumb Chairman

Lee Jung-hoon, who led the company that operated the exchange, is charged with committing $70 million in fraud.

AccessTimeIconOct 25, 2022 at 10:36 a.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 4:00 a.m. UTC

South Korean prosecutors have asked a court to sentence Lee Jung-hoon, the former chairman of Bithumb Holdings, which operates South Korean crypto exchange Bithumb, to eight years in prison on charges of $70 million fraud.

The trial took place on Tuesday, and the verdict will be delivered on Dec. 20, according to the Yonhap News Agency.

Lee is accused of stealing $70 million from Kim Byung Gun, chairman of cosmetic surgery empire BK Group, during negotiations of a deal that would have seen Kim acquire Bithumb Holdings.

Kim paid the former Bithumb Holdings chairman an upfront "contract fee" of $70 million under the condition that Bithumb would list BXA token and use proceeds of the token sale toward the acquisition.

The BXA token, which is issued by the Blockchain Exchange Alliance, which is a group that Kim helped form in 2018, was never listed on Bithumb and the deal collapsed.

"The structure of this case is a typical stock sale contract," Lee's lawyer said in defense of his client in court.

"I am very sorry for making it difficult for employees and causing social pressure," Lee added.

Bithumb didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.


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Oliver Knight is a CoinDesk reporter based between London and Lisbon. He does not own any crypto.

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