South Korean authorities are divided whether bitcoins from criminal proceeds should be confiscated. In a criminal case involving 216 bitcoins, the court previously ruled that the digital currency cannot be confiscated. However, the prosecutor is now appealing to the court to overturn that decision and allow the forfeiture of the bitcoins, now worth billions of won.
Prosecutor Seeks to Confiscate Bitcoins
Following the ruling in September by South Korea’s Suwon District Court that found the confiscation of bitcoins in a criminal case to be inappropriate, the case prosecutor has appealed to the court to overturn that decision, SBS reported this week. The prosecutor believes that all criminal proceeds should be forfeited.
The case began when a web developer was indicted in April for allegedly distributing 235,000 instances of illegal pornographic material on adult websites over three years, as news.Bitcoin.com previously reported.
Ahn, 33, operated adult websites with 1.2 million customers. The prosecutor seized his cash in the amount of 1.46 billion won as well as 216 bitcoins held in a wallet at an exchange. Since Ahn’s arrest, the 500 million won worth of bitcoins have appreciated to 4.25 billion won (about $4 million).
Court Previously Ruled – Inappropriate to Confiscate Bitcoins
During the trial held in September, the prosecutor filed a lawsuit against Ahn and his family for 1.46 billion won in cash and the forfeiture of his 216 bitcoins.
The Suwon District Court sentenced Ahn to one year and six months in prison. However, the judge decided to only collect 340 million won out of the 1.46 billion cash and threw out the confiscated bitcoins. He believes that 340 million won is the extent of the direct profits generated from Ahn’s pornography operation. As for the digital currency, the publication conveyed the judge’s decision:
Not only is it difficult to do this, but it is [also] not appropriate to confiscate bitcoins because they are in the form of electronic files without physical entities, unlike cash.
The news outlet explained that the ruling which states that bitcoin is “not appropriate for confiscation” was based on Article 10 of the Concealed Revenue Regulation Act.
If the prosecutor is successful at keeping Ahn’s bitcoins, they will be transferred to the state treasury and will be auctioned, the publication detailed, adding that “the second sentencing [for this case is] scheduled for January 8th.”
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