A former executive at Coinone, one of South Korea’s top five cryptocurrency exchanges, pleaded guilty on Thursday to accepting bribes in exchange for listing certain cryptocurrencies on the platform.
Note: It is common practice in South Korea for authorities to release only the surname of defendants due to privacy regulations.
See related article: S.Korea to expand probe on token listing bribes if it sees ‘more evidence’
- The defendant, known only as Jeon, is accused of receiving roughly 2 billion Korean won from 2020 to 2022 in exchange for listing cryptocurrencies on Coinone that he knew were subject to market price manipulation.
- Prosecutors allege some of the tokens at issue were affiliated with companies that were hired to manipulate crypto prices. Those local cryptocurrencies are reported to include Pica Coin and Puriever.
- The court case took place at Seoul Southern District Court after Jeon was first arrested on bribery charges March 22.
- Jeon and his broker Koh — who is alleged to have facilitated the listings — have acknowledged that the accusations are true. However, the pair’s legal representatives have said they will not make a formal admission of guilt until reviewing all the available evidence.
- Another former employee at Coinone, known only as Kim, alongside their own broker Hwang, is accused of involvement in the case. However, both Kim and Hwang have yet to respond to the charges leveled at them during Thursday’s court hearing. Kim reportedly received US$784,000 for his role in the alleged wrongdoing.
- Coinone had not responded to Forkast’s request for comment as of 1:00 p.m. in Hong Kong on Friday.
- The next trial for the four defendants is scheduled for June 15.
- “Some exchanges do practice transparency in listing tokens, but many exchange employees have engaged in such behavior as common practice,” said Seoul-based information security and financial crime expert Hwang Suk-jin in a previous interview with Forkast.
- South Korean prosecutors are looking to expand the investigation onto other local exchanges as they search for further evidence of cryptocurrency listing manipulations in the broader market.
- The nation’s cryptocurrency market was valued at 19 trillion won (US$14.3 billion) as of the end of last year, making it one of the largest cryptocurrency markets in the world.
See related article: South Korea arrests former Coinone exchange official for alleged crypto-listing bribery