Former Coinone executive pleads guilty to bribery

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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’

Fast facts

  • 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

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