Former Bithumb Chairman Lee Jung-Hoon Acquitted in $100M Fraud Case

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Lee Jung-hoon, the former chairman of Bithumb Holdings and Bithumb Korea, was justified on second-time fraud charges. The 5th Criminal Division of the Seoul High Court recently issued a not guilty verdict in a case involving allegations of a $100 million fraud.

The case dates back to July 2021, when Lee was indicted on charges of defrauding cosmetic surgeon Kim Byung-Gun of 100 billion won (approximately $82 million) during negotiations for an acquisition deal. This charge followed allegations that Lee embezzled an acquisition deposit under the guise of listing the “BXA token” on the Bithumb crypto exchange. But despite the seriousness of the charges, the prosecution failed to provide sufficient evidence to support its claims.

This recent decision is consistent with an earlier acquittal in January 2023, where the court found the charges against Lee unproven. The defense highlighted inconsistencies in Kim’s testimony and argued that Lee fulfilled all of his obligations as a seller. The court agreed, ruling that the evidence presented by the prosecution did not conclusively prove that Lee promised to list the BXA token that was at the center of the case.

Lee’s case is a focal point in the South Korean cryptocurrency scene, reflecting the complex interplay between emerging digital financial technologies and existing legal frameworks. His acquittal underscores the challenges prosecutors face in proving fraud in high-tech, high-stakes financial cases.

The BXA token, which was linked to the Blockchain Exchange Alliance established by Kim’s consortium in December 2018, was intended to be the financial center of the acquisition deal. Despite Lee’s assurances, the token was never listed on Bithumb. That led prosecutors to argue that Lee’s promise was a tactic to defraud Kim and mislead investors. However, the court’s decision indicates that these claims cannot be proven.

Lee’s acquittal has broader implications for the cryptocurrency industry, particularly regarding the legal complexities surrounding crypto exchanges and token listings. It also highlights the need for clearer regulatory guidelines and legal standards in the rapidly evolving world of digital currencies and blockchain technology.

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In conclusion, Lee Jung-Hoon’s not guilty verdict in the $100 million fraud case involving Bithumb and the BXA token marks a critical moment at the intersection of cryptocurrency and litigation. It sheds light on the challenges of navigating and regulating the complex and often murky waters of the crypto industry.

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