Korean Authorities Seize $1.4 Million in Bitcoin After Supreme Court Rules Cryptos Can Be Forfeitable Assets

Francisco Memoria
  • South Korea's Supreme Court ruled cryptocurrencies can be seen as forfeitable assets.
  • The ruling saw authorities seize $1.4 million in bitcoin from a criminal who reportedly distributed child porn.

South Korea’s Supreme Court has recently ruled that cryptocurrencies can be seen as forfeitable assets, which led to the seizure of 191 bitcoins (worth about $1.4 million) in a child-porn cybercrime case, in which the criminal, a 33-year-old named Ahn, was sentenced to jail and hit with a $640,000 fine.

According to local news outlet Yonhap, the country’s supreme court overturned a lower court’s ruling to reject a prosecutor’s request to seize the criminal’s assets after he was charged back in May 2014.

The lower court initially ruled Ahn’s cryptocurrencies couldn’t be seized, as they don’t have a physical form. The Supreme Court overruled the decision, as it considered the cryptocurrencies proceeds of a crime. Per The Korean Times, the court noted:

"The bitcoins were earned from the proceeds of crime. If we return the bitcoins to Ahn, it will be giving him back profits that were earned illegally from running an online porn site."

South Korea's Supreme Court

The perpetrator was arrested and indicted for violating the country’s ‘Protection of Children and Juveniles From Sexual Abuse Law.’ Reportedly, Ahn distributed 235,000 obscene pictures of children online, and made over 1.9 billion won ($1.7 million) in the process.

How authorities are going to seize the criminal’s cryptocurrencies and how they’re subsequently going to handle them is unclear. The Supreme Court’s decision, however, is notable as it could influence future cases in South Korea.

As CryptoGlobe reported, authorities in the country exposed a cryptocurrency pyramid scheme last month, which saw two men take $18.7 million from unsuspecting investors. While the scammers were punished with fines of $8 and $15 million, no cryptocurrencies were seized.

The South Korean government has recently raided the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, UPbit, as authorities suspected the company deceived investors with regard to their funds. The country’s national assembly has recently proposed lifting a ban on initial coin offerings (ICOs)