Prosecutors in South Korea carried out a raid of three crypto exchanges in the country last month, confiscating computer hard drives, mobile phones, and financial records after a January investigation showed that some of the customers’ crypto holdings had been moved to the bank accounts belonging to exchange managers, the Wall Street Journal reported today, March 16.
The investigation’s head prosecutor Jeong Dae-jeong said that the three-day raid took place in Seoul, South Korea’s capital, but declined to specify the amount of funds transferred or which exchanges were targeted. He did add that one is located in the Yeouido neighborhood, which is home to crypto exchange Coinone.
According to Jeong, at this point, “it’s unclear yet whether the transactions can be seen as embezzlement.” The Wall Street Journal notes that after the raid, investigators found that at least one exchange purchased Bitcoin (BTC) from other crypto exchanges using customers’ crypto holdings.
South Korea is reportedly the world’s largest market for cryptocurrency trading, and the high demand for crypto within the country had led to cryptocurrencies trading at prices that are estimated to be around 30 percent higher than in other countries.
Amid this environment of high speculation, the South Korean government has been enacting various regulations for the crypto market, like a ban on anonymous trading that began at the end of January, or the more recent prohibition on government officials holding and trading crypto.
In January of this year, government officials from South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) were accused of insider trading after allegedly buying and selling crypto based on their knowledge of potential upcoming crypto regulations.