Korean Supreme Court Sees Bitcoin (BTC) as an Asset in Landmark Ruling
According to reports by the Korea Times, the Supreme Court of South Korea in a criminal landmark ruling on Wednesday has acknowledged cryptocurrency as an asset due to its immense value. The case involved an individual named Ahn, a 33-year old man operating a pornographic website where he made proceeds in Bitcoins.
Ahn was apparently detained and charged in May 2017 after he was accused of violating the Protection of Children and Juveniles from Sexual Law. He was then sentenced by a lower court to 18 months imprisonment along with a fine of $646,000. The prosecution did not know whether they were allowed to take possession of 191 Bitcoins, which are worth over $1.4 million which Ahn received as payment.
The Landmark Judgment
In a judgment declared by the Supreme Court, the cryptocurrency is recognized to have value, meaning that it can be confiscated. In many ways, this was actually a landmark ruling for the South Korean administration making it the first-time cryptocurrency is being confiscated in South Korea.
According to the Korea Times, Ahn disseminated 235,000 obscene pictures online and made $1.7 million. Though a lower court had ruled against an appeal by the prosecutors to seize 216 Bitcoins, the Supreme Court ruling overturned the lower court’s ruling. The court had ruled that Ahn’s possession were illicitly earned and that the Bitcoins had no material form.
Illegal Online Content
Following an appeal, a high court however ruled in the favor of the prosecutors, though it only recognized that 191 out of 216 Bitcoins were obtained as payment made from the illicit online content. The high court ruled that the Bitcoins were earned from the earnings of an offense, meaning that if returned to Ahn, it will be giving him back profits earned from crime.
It is also worth noting that the Supreme Court’s ruling added weight to the high court’s judgment. This basically means that authorities in South Korea now have the right to confiscate digital assets related to illegal activities in South Korea. Proceeds from illegal activities like drug deals, gambling, prostitution and pornography will from now henceforth be confiscated.
This ruling is actually a big plus for cryptocurrency enthusiasts in South Korea since initially, it had been rumored that the country’s chief financial regulator had previously said that the government would consider shutting down domestic virtual currency exchanges, a position which was later clarified since the authorities did not ban the trade in cryptocurrencies.