The former chairman of the South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb, Lee Jung-hoon, could face a possible maximum sentence of eight years in prison if found guilty on charges related to an alleged fraud worth $70 million.
Local prosecutors asked the Seoul District Court for the sentence on Oct. 25, with the sentencing hearing to be held on Dec. 20, according to a report from Yonhap News Agency.
It’s alleged that Jung-hoon defrauded 100 billion won ($70 million) from Kim Byung-gun, chairman of the cosmetic surgery company BK Group, in October 2018 during negotiations for Byung-gun to purchase the Bithumb exchange.
Byung-gun alleges he paid $70 million to Jung-hoon as a “down payment” toward buying the exchange on the condition that it lists a token called BXA created by the Blockchain Exchange Allicance, which Byung-gun helped to form.
The proceeds from the token listing would’ve allegedly gone toward helping pay for the acquisition, but Bithumb never listed it and the deal fell apart.
“The structure of this case is a typical stock sale contract,” Jung-hoon’s lawyer reportedly said as a defense, adding that it was carried out faithfully according to typical procedures for such a contract.
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Jung-hoon said in his final statement to the court that he was “very sorry for making it difficult for employees and causing social pressure."
Earlier this month, Jung-hoon failed to attend a parliamentary hearing on Oct. 6 regarding the $40 billion wipeout of the Terra ecosystem citing a panic disorder as the reason for his absence.