The largest cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea, Upbit, is suspected of fraud and is currently under investigation. The prosecutors have conducted searches at the exchange and confiscated computers and accounting records.
Upbit Under Investigation
South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, the Kakao-backed Upbit is suspected of fraud, according to local media. While maintaining that customers’ assets are still kept securely, the exchange posted the following statement on its website:
“Upbit is currently under investigation by the prosecution, and we are working diligently. Upbit services such as all transactions and withdrawals are operating normally.”
Upbit is currently the world’s fourth-largest cryptocurrency exchange and the largest in South Korea with a 24-hour trading volume of $1.812 billion at the time of this writing, according to Coinmarketcap. The exchange is affiliated with Kakao Corp which operates the country’s most popular chat app, Kakao Talk.
Suspected of Fraud
Crypto of Korea explained:
“The company [Upbit] is suspected of transferring customer funds from their cryptocurrency exchange account to a representative or executive account…Korean prosecutors have conducted search and seizure against the nation’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Upbit, on charges of fraud.”
According to the publication, the financial investigation team of the Seoul Southern District public prosecutors’ office sent prosecutors and investigators to Upbit headquarters on May 10 and May 11 “to secure computer hard disks and accounting records.” More than 10 investigators were sent to Upbit, Money Today added.
“After the digital forensics investigation on the seizures [seized items] and confirming the illegal charges, we will decide whether and in what direction we will investigate further,” the prosecutors were quoted saying.
Accused of Deceiving Customers
Upbit allegedly “pretends to hold [virtual currencies] without holding virtual currencies,” the news outlet noted.
“The prosecution believes that Upbit has entered [into] the computer system as if it had virtual currencies that it does not actually own, and deceived customers,” KBS elaborated. According to the prosecution, the Hankyoreh described, “Upbit has been suspected of carrying out ‘book-trading’ without holding virtual currencies in a wallet.”
The Financial Services Commission (FSC) and the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) have been investigating domestic crypto exchanges since March, according to Yonhap News. Their first target was Coinnest where the chairman, Kim Ik-hwan, was detained over embezzlement and fraud charges. According to Money Today, unlike Coinnest, there is no suspicion of embezzlement with Upbit.