Prosecutors Raid Three Bithumb ‘Affiliates’ as Shareholder Scrutiny Intensifies
A number of South Korean firms related to the crypto exchange Bithumb – including the firm that owns a controlling share of its stock – have been raided by the prosecution service on embezzlement charges.
Per MBC, officers searched the offices of Vidente, a publicly listed video equipment-making company that owns a majority 34% tranche of Bithumb’s shares. They also raided INBIOGEN, a footwear and accessories producer, and Bucket STUDIO, a firm that produces entertainment-related content.
The media outlet added that executives from the firms are being investigated on suspicion of embezzling company funds.
While none of these companies appears to have a link with the crypto sector, they are believed to be owned by Kang Jong-hoon, a man widely believed to be the owner and “secret” chairman” of Bithumb.
Kang has reportedly been attempting to sell Bithumb for over a year after acquiring the exchange – and the other three companies – back in 2020. Some firms have also enquired about the possibility of buying Vidente, a move that would grant them control over Bithumb.
A leading South Korean media outlet earlier this month published a comprehensive exposé of Kang earlier this month, alleging that he had appointed the older sister of his celebrity girlfriend, the actress Park Min-young, as an INBIOGEN director. Park's sister has recently stepped down from her role at INBIOGEN, but prosecutors appear to believe that financial wrongdoings may be afoot at the companies.
Officers removed “accounting-related” documents and digital data from the three firms.
Prosecutors stated that the crypto exchange Bithumb was currently not part of their investigations.
Who Is Bithumb’s Biggest Shareholder?
Kang is a somewhat mysterious figure in the South Korean crypto industry – and does not have a background in IT.
His business card reportedly refers to him as the Chairman of Vidente, INBIOGEN, Bucket STUDIO, and the Bithumb affiliate Bithumb Live. The exposé’s authors provided testimony from unnamed sources who claimed Kang has links to the underworld – as well as a fleet of luxury cars, all of which are registered in the names of friends or family members.
Park’s representatives have confirmed that she was romantically involved with Kang but have claimed she has since broken off the relationship.