In a high-profile case in South Korea’s cryptocurrency market, prosecutors have requested an eight-year prison term for Lee Jung-hoon, former chairman of Bithumb, the country’s second-largest crypto exchange.
The appeal hearing, presided over by Judge Seo Seung-ryeol of the Seoul High Court, revisits allegations of a massive $85 million fraud involving the failed listing of BXA (Bithumb Coin).
Lee Jung-hoon Faces Eight-Year Prison Sentence
According to Korean media Decenter, The Seoul High Court has resumed the appeal hearing for Lee Jung-hoon, the former chairman of Bithumb. Following this, the prosecution has reiterated its request for an eight-year prison sentence for Lee, intensifying the legal battle over alleged fraud involving 110 billion won approximately $85 million.
Lee Jung-hoon is accused of misleading BK Group Chairman Kim Byeong-gun into a fraudulent deal under the pretense of acquiring and jointly managing Bithumb, with promises of listing BXA (Bithumb Coin) on the exchange.
The prosecution, challenging the acquittal from the first trial, argues that Lee intended to evade financial regulations and profit through the exchange’s coins, exploiting significant information asymmetry and misleading investors about the feasibility of listing BXA.
Despite being acquitted in the first trial, where the court cited a non-binding clause in the investment agreement and found no explicit promise for coin listing, the prosecution appealed, citing Lee’s alleged intention to deceive. The prosecution argues that Lee was fully aware of the difficulties in listing BXA coins but failed to disclose these challenges to Kim, thereby intentionally misleading him.
Lee’s Defense Counters Prosecution’s Claims
Lee’s defense team, however, challenges the reliability of Chairman Kim’s statements, pointing out inconsistencies and noting that Kim himself had first proposed acquiring Bithumb. They also disputed the claim that Kim was unaware of the BXA Coin’s listing status, citing messages exchanged with a witness about the listing process.
In his final statement, Lee denied any deceitful intentions, expressing his belief in Kim’s capability to lead the company and contribute to its growth. He emphasized his commitment as a seller and voiced frustration over delayed payments.
As the appeal trial resumes on January 18 next year, the case continues to captivate South Korea’s cryptocurrency industry, with the community eagerly awaiting the verdict. The outcome of this trial holds significant importance, with the cryptocurrency community closely monitoring its developments.