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Korea Seizes Bitcoin Worth $1.4 Million Following Supreme Court Ruling

The South Korean government is moving to confiscate 191 bitcoins seized in a child-porn cybercrime case in which the perpetrator has now been sentenced to jail and a $640,000 fine.

According to Korean news agency Yonhap, the move comes after South Korea’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that cryptocurrencies can be seen as property with value that can be subject to forfeiture in criminal cases.

As of press time, the nearly 200 bitcoins are worth a little over $1.4 million, according to CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index.

The Supreme Court order backs up a previous ruling from an appeal that overturned a lower court’s decision to reject a prosecutor’s petition to forfeit the criminal’s cryptocurrency assets.

According to Yonhap, the lower court denied the request based on the argument that cryptocurrencies only “exist electronically and have no physical form.” However, the appeals court later concluded that cryptocurrency can be seen as “profit earned from trade in goods.”

It remains unclear, however, as to how the South Korea authority would handle the forfeited digital assets. That said, today’s decision marks a notable legal reference, since there are ongoing criminal cases in South Korea involving cryptocurrencies.

As previously reported by CoinDesk, prosecutors from the Incheon district filed a suit in December 2017 against a firm called Max Mining and 21 suspects in an alleged $250-million cryptocurrency mining fraud.

Most recently, prosecutors in Seoul have also raided several local cryptocurrency exchanges over suspicions of fraud and embezzlement, reportedly seizing assets for further investigation.

Gavel and Korean won image via Shutterstock

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The US Government Wants to Keep $5.5 Million in Seized Bitcoin

The U.S. government is eyeing the potential confiscation of 500 bitcoin seized from four individuals charged with creating fake identification documents.

According to an announcement from the Department of Justice in Ohio, the four individuals – three from Toledo and one from Perrysburg – allegedly produced and transferred fake documents such as drivers’ licenses and personal identification cards purportedly from the states of Ohio, Michigan and Utah.

The indictment indicates the four netted proceeds of 500 bitcoin over a period of nearly five years from June 2013 to February 2018. The cryptocurrency total is currently worth nearly $5.5 million according to CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index.

If the accused are ordered to forfeit the bitcoin, as requested by the prosecutors in the case, the U.S. government will be able to add them to its existing pool of bitcoin seized from criminals in recent years. The funds are likely to eventually be auctioned to the public, adding potential liquidity to the market.

As reported previously, the U.S. Marshals Service held an auction of more than 3,800 bitcoins in January – the first since the sale of 2,700 bitcoin in 2016.

In 2014, the US Marshals Service also auctioned off 50,000 bitcoins forfeited by Ross Ulbricht, the operator of the now-defunct dark web Silk Road, upon his conviction.

Gavel with U.S. flag image via Shutterstock

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