by Cindy Huynh
South Korea’s top court has recently confiscated $2.3 billion in cryptocurrency assets from a 33-year old man who operated a pornographic site. It is the first time cryptocurrencies have been confiscated in the country.
Korea’s highest court confirmed on May 30, 2018, a court order that seized 191 bitcoins from a man named Ahn. The 191 bitcoin was worth approximately 2.4 billion won ($2.3 million ) which was earnt from an online pornography website.
The Supreme Court, therefore, recognized the cryptocurrency as an “asset with measurable value.” The court also mentioned that “the cryptocurrency is recognized to have value so it can be confiscated.”
According to South China Morning Post, in the past, Ahn had also faced a sentence of 18 months in prison and a fine worth 696 million won ($646,375 ) by a lower court. He had also violated the Protection of Children and Juveniles from Sexual Abuse Law and was arrested and indicted in May 2017.
Case Gains Spotlight as Convicted Man Makes Profits via Cryptocurrencies
During Ahn’s sentencing, the prosecution believed that Ahn’s 216 bitcoins that were earned illegally should be confiscated as cyber assets. The lower Court, however, ruled in favor of Ahn. They stated that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin had no physical or tangible form and only existed electronically.
However, on appeal Korea’s highest court stated that cyber assets could be considered as profits in this context. They considered 191 of the 216 bitcoin Ahn owns as a form of payment for distributing illegal images online. The High Court’s decision to go against the lower court’s decision falls in line with Korean Law. Under Korean Law, assets that can be seized range from cash, stocks and other tangible and intangible assets that have value.
“The bitcoins were earned from the proceeds of crime,” said the High Court. “If we return the Bitcoins to Ahn, it will be giving him back profits that were earned illegally from running an online porn site.”
Moving forward, any cyber asset gained from illegal activities such as pornography, prostitution, drugs, or even gambling can be confiscated in South Korea.
London Police also Seized Cryptocurrencies as Payment
According toUSA TODAY, on May 2, 2018, London Metropolitan police arrested a 25-year old man called Grant West and also seized approximately $700,000 of his bitcoin currency. West’s girlfriend Rachel Brookes, an accomplice, faced a two-year community service sentence.
“These people generally feel they can operate with impunity, that they can’t be touched,” said Mich Gallagher, the police officer who led the operation. “We have now debunked that.”
West was previously involved in a cyber attack on a fast-food company. The investigators mentioned that West had cyber attacked over 100 companies between July and December 2015. These included cell phone companies, supermarkets, and gambling shops.
London police mentioned that West used phishing email tactics to retrieve personal information like passwords and credit card numbers. He went and sold the personal information on the Dark Web and converted his money into bitcoin, storing it across many different accounts.