S Korean Prosecutors Raid Bithumb in Price Manipulation Probe, Hope to Arrest ‘Owner’
The South Korean crypto exchange Bithumb has suffered another double blow from the nation’s prosecutors – who have raided the exchange in a price manipulation probe. Officers also want to arrest Bithumb’s suspected largest shareholder on embezzlement charges.
YTN reported that the Seoul Southern District Prosecutor’s Office “conducted a search and seizure operation” at the firm’s offices on January 26.
The media outlet reported that the prosecution is believed to have “launched an investigation” into a “possible illegal transaction” involved during “the process of listing and trading cryptoassets.”
The altcoin GOM2 was the only token named in media reports. The same coin was delisted by the Bithumb rival Upbit last year over disclosure-related matters.
Media outlets also noted that the investigation was “separate” from investigations into allegations of embezzlement leveled at Kang Jong-hyun. The latter is a 41-year-old man thought to be the “real” owner of Bithumb. Yonhap and Hankook Ilbo reported that prosecution officials have now asked a court to issue an arrest warrant for Kang – after questioning him twice this month.
Kang, a reclusive business mogul, hit the headlines last year when a media outlet found evidence that he was secretly dating one of the nation’s top actresses, Park Min-young. Kang appears to have ties to Park’s talent agency and had installed her sister as the director of one of Bithumb’s “affiliate” companies.
Prosecutors have been investigating Kang over suspected financial irregularities since last year. They believe that he and his sister – in whose name his business interests are registered – “conspired to steal company money or manipulate stock prices.”
Arrest Warrants, Prosecution Raids, and a Tax Probe: Bithumb’s Difficult January
The latest moves follow a torrid start to the year for Bithumb. Earlier this month, the National Tax Service (NTS) launched a “special tax investigation” into the trading platform’s holding companies: Bithumb Korea and Bithumb Holdings.
The investigation is being conducted by the Bureau of Investigation of the Seoul Regional Tax Service’s “special tax investigation” unit. Media outlets have reported the NTS is examining cases of suspected tax evasion.
Kang-owned affiliates were also raided by prosecutors last year. The Vice President of one of these firms was arrested for allegedly destroying evidence prior to a prosecution search – and died in a suspected suicide weeks later.