Thursday, June 20, 2024

South Korean regulators target Bithumb in new probe

The South Korea-based cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb is under a “special tax investigation” by the country’s National Tax Service (NTS), according to local reports.

On Jan. 10, tax agents raided the exchange’s headquarters in the country’s capital city Seoul as a part of a compliance investigation. Authorities are verifying the possibility of tax evasion by examining domestic and international transactions of Bithumb Korea, Bithumb Holdings and its affiliates.

Observations regarding tax evasion related to the ownership of Bithumb are also underway. 

The investigation was carried out by the 4th Bureau of Investigation of the Seoul Regional Tax Service, which specifically investigates “special tax investigations” as opposed to standard ones.

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Previously, Bithumb was under a special tax investigation in 2018 by the NTS, through which it won roughly $64 million in income tax.

This development comes after Bithumb’s former chair Lee Jung-Hoon was acquitted in the first instance on Jan. 3 by prosecutors in South Korea. The former executive was facing allegations of $70 million in fraud charges.

Related: Busan city drops global crypto exchanges from its digital exchange plans

A week prior to the acquittal, on Dec. 30 the largest shareholder and executive of Bithumb was found dead. Mr. Park Mo was under investigation for embezzlement and stock price manipulation by local authorities.

Park Mo was the latest in a slew of crypto billionaires who died within a month of each other. The others included Nikolai Mushegian the co-founder of MakerDAO and Amber Group co-founder Tiantian Kullander, among others. Crypto skeptics online have pointed to the timing around the fall of FTX.

Regulators around the world have been keeping a close watch on the crypto industry in light of the turmoil which has since plagued the space.

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