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South Korea arrests owner of Bithumb crypto exchange

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South Korean prosecutors said they have arrested Kang Jong-hyun, the de-facto owner of local cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb, for alleged embezzlement and stock manipulation.

See related article: South Korea’s Bithumb exchange with “Kimchi coin” manipulation allegations

Fast facts

  • Prosecutors said they have arrested Kang and a person identified only as Cho on the charges. Another person, also listed only as Cho, has pleaded guilty to all charges, according to local news outlet JTBC.
  • A spokesperson for the prosecutors’ office contacted by Forkast declined to disclose the full names of the other individuals, a practise common in South Korea due to privacy laws.
  • Last month, South Korean prosecutors charged Kang and two other executives of Bithumb-affiliated firms with breach of trust, embezzlement and fraudulent transactions, the Seoul Southern District Prosecutors’ Office confirmed with Forkast via text message.
  • Prosecutors suspect Kang Jong-hyun to be the owner of Bithumb and affiliates, and that his brother and sister conspired to misappropriate company funds and manipulate stock prices, according to local outlet Newsis
  • Kang’s younger sister Kang Ji-yeon is the chief executive officer of Bithumb-affiliated companies Inbiogen and Bucket Studio. Biotechnology firm Inbiogen is the largest shareholder of video equipment manufacturer Vidente, the single largest shareholder of Bithumb. Entertainment content distributor Bucket Studio is the majority owner of Inbiogen.
  • Prosecutors raided the three Bithumb affiliates last October and banned Kang from leaving the country. Both his siblings were summoned and investigated by the prosecutors last month.
  • “The allegations surrounding my brother Kang Jong-hyun are unconfirmed and one-sided … I can confidently say that there are no problems related to embezzlement or breach of trust within the company,” Kang Ji-yeon said in a letter to shareholders uploaded on Bucket Studio’s official website. 

See related article: South Korea regulator recommends unified crypto disclosure system to protect investors



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