South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges are enduring a torrid week – with the CEO of what media outlets are calling a “top-three” crypto trading platform facing assault and extortion charges. (Updated on November 29: updates in bold.)
Per Maeil Kyungjae, police in Gangnam, Seoul, have charged the unnamed exchange’s CEO, who for legal reasons, is being identified by the police by his surname, Choi, with attacking and threatening number of current and former exchange employees.
At least two other exchange employees were also charged. The case has been handed over to the prosecutor’s office.
Police say the incident took place in February this year, when Choi discovered that an employee, named by the authorities only as B, had been trading on the exchange platform. Although the exchange reportedly had no policy preventing employees from opening accounts on the platform, the CEO believed B may have been using insider information to make personal gains.
Police say that Choi refused to let B leave the company building for 10 hours, threatening B and eventually attacking B with his fists. Choi eventually succeeded in forcing B to transfer some USD 17,000 worth of funds to the exchange.
Choi, say police, also made threats of violence to another two employees he also suspected of insider trading, coercing them to hand over several thousand dollars worth of fiat and cryptocurrencies.
Police have charged Choi and other unnamed exchange employees with blackmail and violent conduct. The media outlet claims that the platform in question is a “top 3”-tier, market-leading exchange.
Most of South Korea’s top cryptocurrency exchanges are based in the affluent Gangnam district, including Upbit, which appears to have lost millions of dollars’ worth of Ethereum tokens yesterday in a mysterious incident, and Bithumb. Jaewon Choi is the CEO of Bithumb. The company did not respond to our request for comment, while a spokesperson for Upbit confirmed that their CEO has not been arrested.