South Korean prosecutors are investigating Lee Sang-jun, the chief executive officer of  local cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb’s holding company, for alleged bribery in listing certain cryptocurrencies on the platform, the Seoul Southern District Prosecutors’ Office said. 

See related article: South Korea arrests head of Bithumb crypto exchange for alleged embezzlement

Fast facts

  • Prosecutors at the Seoul Southern District raided Bithumb Holdings and the private residence of Lee earlier this month, the prosecutors’ office said in a text message to Forkast on Monday. The office declined to give further details on the investigation, such as when the raid took place and the whereabouts of Lee. The investigation adds to the list of charges piling up against Bithumb executives.
  • A former employee of Coinone, the country’s third largest crypto exchange by trade volume, is also being investigated for allegedly taking bribes to list specific cryptocurrencies, the prosecutors said in the text message. The office declined to give the person’s full name, citing South Korean privacy laws.   
  • A Coinone spokesperson confirmed the investigation with Forkast via text message on Monday, while declining to make further comments. Bithumb has not yet responded to Forkast’s request for comments sent via text message on Monday morning.
  • Local news outlet Chosun Biz reported that prosecutors have evidence that other local exchanges such as Upbit, Korbit, and Gopax have allegedly listed certain crypto tokens “illegally,” without giving further details and citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter.
  • A South Korean court is set to hold the first trial for Bithumb’s de-facto owner Kang Jong-hyun on Wednesday, according to local news agency News1. Kang and two other executives of Bithumb-affiliated firms face charges of embezzlement, fraudulent transactions and breach of duty. The three have admitted to the charges, according to local news media Donga Ilbo.
  • Kang’s younger sister Kang Ji-yeon, who heads a number of companies that together hold the largest stake in Bithumb, also faces charges of manipulating Bithumb’s stock price with false information. In a statement uploaded on Bithumb-affiliated Bucket Studio’s website that has since been taken down, Kang Ji-yeon said the charges set against her brother are “unconfirmed and one-sided.”   
  • South Korea is developing a regulatory framework for the country’s digital asset industry, which is expected to include clearer guidelines for listing and delisting of crypto tokens on exchanges.

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