Reporters Dig Deeper into Crypto Exchange Bithumb’s Mysterious Ownership Story

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: mehaniq41/Adobe

Bithumb – one of South Korea’s biggest crypto exchanges – remains in the public spotlight with questions about the firm’s ownership structure raising concern across the nation. 

Last month, the country was rocked when it was revealed that Kang Jong-hyun, the reclusive majority stakeholder of Bithumb, had been secretly having a romantic relationship with the top-billing actress Park Min-young. Reporters also discovered that Kang’s affiliates had bought Park’s talent agency – and had installed her older sister as a director at a publicly listed firm that he also owns.

Kang is reportedly the “secret chairman” of Bithumb, crypto industry sources have claimed – and three of the other firms he owns were raided by prosecutors investigating these allegations earlier this month. These include Vidente, a video equipment-making firm that reportedly owns a 34% stake in Bithumb. 

Bithumb 7-day trading volumes. (Source: CoinGecko)

But the exchange – and Kang in particular – could be in for a rocky ride as the week gets started. One of the nation’s top investigative journalism-based news shows – MBC’s “PD’s Notebook – is set to air an episode devoted to Kang this evening, Newsen reported. 

Its producers promised further revelations and disclosed some of the results of their investigation. They alleged that Kang’s younger sister also appears to be a key player – as she is listed as Vidente’s largest shareholder. The show’s makers also reported that at one point, Kang’s sister saved him from bankruptcy by “mobilizing $16 million.”

Kang’s sister is also listed as the biggest shareholder of Inbiogen, another of the firms raided by prosecutors this month – and referred to by the press as a Bithumb “affiliate.” 

Previous revelations have shown that Kang’s business card lists him as the CEO of InBioGen. 

More Scrutiny to Follow for Bithumb

The TV show will also look at the fate of a botched $350 million 2018 takeover of Bithumb by a Singapore-based plastic surgery firm. BK Consortium agreed to the deal in 2018, only to default on payments in 2019. A token launched by the same consortium also drew controversy when Bithumb appeared to renege on its plans to list the coin – leaving hundreds of investors out of pocket.

Politicians will also wade into the matter today, with a National Assembly committee set to question domestic crypto sector players on Bithumb’s ownership structure at a special session.

A number of key industry players have been called in to face questions from MPs. They will also be asked to speak about their response to the Terra ecosystem crash of early May, Hanguk Kyungjae reported.