The former director of prominent South Korean crypto exchange Coinone has admitted to “the facts” of the charges that prosecutors outlined in South Korean court on Thursday, in a high-profile case involving the arrest of four executives accused of taking hefty bribes for token listings.
Coinone’s former director of listing, Mr. Jeon, has been accused of accepting over 2 billion won ($1.5 million) to list questionable tokens — such as exclusively listed ‘Furiever Coin,’ a cryptocurrency project linked to a kidnapping and murder investigation in Seoul’s Gangnam district. Prosecutors believe Jeon’s broker, a “Mr. Ko,” arranged the deals.
On Thursday, a lawyer representing them both told the court, “I admit the facts of the prosecution” in Mr. Jeon’s case.
“Basically, we are acknowledging the facts of the prosecution, but since we have not been able to view all the evidence, we will present a final opinion after review,” the lawyer said.
Coinone trial begins as South Korea curbs crypto corruption
In April, four executives were arrested on suspicion of receiving $2.4 billion won ($2.2 million) in exchange for listing cryptocurrencies on the Coinone platform. At least 46 coins were allegedly listed in exchange for a total of 3 billion won ($2 million) between November 2019 and December 2022 — with more expected as investigations unfold, prosecutors say.
Along with Jeon and Ko, listing team leader Mr. Kim and broker Mr. Hwang were indicted. Kim was accused of breaching the Concealment of Criminal Proceeds Act and a breach of trust. Hwang was also charged with breach of trust.
Coinone is one of the country’s top crypto exchanges and one of the few to survive the government’s increased regulatory action and policy changes in recent years, following the collapse of Terra and Luna. Corruption on this scale would be incredibly damaging for the firm — and could impact South Korea’s regulation road map for the crypto industry.
On Monday, the country unanimously passed a bill requiring government officials to disclose their bitcoin and crypto holdings, following a scandal involving undisclosed token holdings. Meanwhile, in the US and the UK, officials aren’t required to reveal their crypto bags.