Korea Seizes Bitcoin Worth $1.4 Million Following Supreme Court Ruling

South Korea's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that cryptocurrencies can be forfeited in criminal cases, allowing the seizure.

AccessTimeIconMay 30, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 8:00 a.m. UTC

The South Korean government is moving to confiscate 191 bitcoins seized in a child-porn cybercrime case in which the perpetrator has now been sentenced to jail and a $640,000 fine.

According to Korean news agency Yonhap, the move comes after South Korea's Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that cryptocurrencies can be seen as property with value that can be subject to forfeiture in criminal cases.

As of press time, the nearly 200 bitcoins are worth a little over $1.4 million, according to CoinDesk's Bitcoin Price Index.

The Supreme Court order backs up a previous ruling from an appeal that overturned a lower court's decision to reject a prosecutor's petition to forfeit the criminal's cryptocurrency assets.

According to Yonhap, the lower court denied the request based on the argument that cryptocurrencies only "exist electronically and have no physical form." However, the appeals court later concluded that cryptocurrency can be seen as "profit earned from trade in goods."

It remains unclear, however, as to how the South Korea authority would handle the forfeited digital assets. That said, today's decision marks a notable legal reference, since there are ongoing criminal cases in South Korea involving cryptocurrencies.

As previously reported by CoinDesk, prosecutors from the Incheon district filed a suit in December 2017 against a firm called Max Mining and 21 suspects in an alleged $250-million cryptocurrency mining fraud.

Most recently, prosecutors in Seoul have also raided several local cryptocurrency exchanges over suspicions of fraud and embezzlement, reportedly seizing assets for further investigation.

Gavel and Korean won image via Shutterstock


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