South Korean Officials Confiscate 191 Bitcoin During Criminal Investigation

We have another interesting Bitcoin-related development in South Korea. For once, this has nothing to do with regulation or anything along those lines. Instead, one criminal saw 191 bitcoins confiscated by law enforcement earlier this week. The individual in question had been running an illegal site. It is evident the confiscation of Bitcoin in South Korea will spark a lot of new debates moving forward. The guilty party feels there is no legal ground on which to do so, and he wants to get his money back.

Bitcoins Confiscated in South Korea

Running an illegal website linked to Bitcoin transactions is always asking for trouble. It is uncanny how many people still believe Bitcoin can be used to remain anonymous on the Internet, even though the currency clearly lacks any privacy or anonymity features. That situation will not change anytime soon, by the look of things. The South Korean government successfully confiscated 191 BTC from an individual charged with running an illegal site.

South Korean law enforcement arrested an individual earlier this week. He has been charged with running an “illegal site”, although it’s unclear what type of content he had been publishing. Given the one-year sentence associated with this endeavor, it is highly unlikely there wasn’t any offensive or illegal content on the platform. Nevertheless, law enforcement officials seized 191 Bitcoin, worth close to 2.4 billion won.

It is also worth noting this particular individual was indicted in May of last year for running this illicit platform. Moreover, he had obtained 1.9 billion won by charging membership access to his platform. According to the prosecution, 1.4 billion won worth of Bitcoin has already been converted to cash, whereas the rest of the money was kept in the form of Bitcoin. This posed a conundrum, as South Korea does not recognize Bitcoin as an official currency right now.

Until now, there was no indication that South Korean officials would ever consider confiscating Bitcoin if someone were arrested for illegal activity. At the same time, this site’s entire business model seems to have revolved around Bitcoin, and thus it is not entirely surprising to see such harsh action being taken. The culprit claims this course of action is unlawful and hopes to see the decision reversed. Whether or not his complaints will fall on deaf ears remains to be seen.

The local district court considering this case sees the confiscated bitcoins as a criminal profit. They deem it impossible to distinguish between profits made through Bitcoin and advertising revenue which may have been generated in the process. There is a lot of merit to such a statement, even though it would not be overly difficult to track down all Bitcoin transactions related to the website itself. The concept of “criminal profit” doesn’t exclude Bitcoin by definition, though.

For the time being, it seems the prosecution will hold onto the Bitcoin balance, rather than sell it or auction it off. The money itself will be kept in an electronic wallet, but no further specifics have been announced. It will be rather interesting to see whether this particular development sets a precedent for similar cases in South Korea. It is evident there is a very strong focus on ending the connection between criminal activity and cryptocurrency in this country, which is much easier said than done.