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Court orders forfeiture of Bitcoins for first time

PUBLISHED : January 31, 2018 - 15:30

UPDATED : January 31, 2018 - 16:29

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[THE INVESTOR] A local court ordered to confiscate 2.4 billion won (US$2.24 million) worth Bitcoins gained as part of criminal proceeds, marking the first such case in the country.

On Jan. 30, a court in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, ordered the seizure of 191 Bitcoins from a 33-year old man surnamed Ahn indicted for distributing pornographic materials, overturning the decision made in the first trial in September last year. 




“We cannot conclude that Bitcoin does not have any economic value just because it does not have a physical entity,” the court ruling said. The court recognized the economic value of the cryptocurrency citing that it can be converted to legal tender at exchanges and some businesses are using the digital currency as means of payment.

In his first trial in September, however, the court said it was difficult to impound the digital currency because they are in the form of electronic files without physical entities, unlike cash.

The prosecutors seized his cash worth 1.46 billion won and 216 Bitcoins held in his wallet in April 2017 by transferring the digital currency to a government wallet. Ahn’s seized Bitcoin was worth 500 million won when he was arrested. 

In addition to the forfeiture of criminal profits, Ahn was sentenced to 1 1/2 years in prison on Jan. 30.

By Park Ga-young (gypark@heraldcorp.com)

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