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South Korea’s Coinone rocked by crypto listing bribery scandal

In a startling turn of events, a former executive at Coinone, one of South Korea’s top cryptocurrency exchanges, has received bribes for listing specific cryptocurrencies on the platform.

The accused executive, Jeon, allegedly received around 2 billion Korean won (approximately $1.5 million) between 2020 and 2022 for facilitating the listing of cryptocurrencies on Coinone that were prone to market price manipulation.

Prosecutors claim that some of the tokens involved in the scandal were linked to companies hired to manipulate cryptocurrency prices. Notably, the local cryptocurrencies in the scheme reportedly include Pica Coin and Puriever.

Jeon’s case was heard at the Seoul Southern District Court following his initial arrest on bribery charges on March 22. While Jeon and his broker, Koh, have acknowledged the accusations, their legal representatives have refrained from formally admitting guilt until they have reviewed all the evidence.

Another former Coinone employee, Kim, and their broker, Hwang, have also been implicated in the case. However, Kim and Hwang have yet to respond to the charges brought against them during Thursday’s court hearing. It is alleged that Kim received $784,000 for their involvement in the illicit activities.

The subsequent trial for the four defendants is scheduled for June 15.

A recent local news release, dated May 22, 2023, reveals that 46 coins were part of this illicit scheme, accounting for approximately 25% of Coinone’s portfolio of listed tokens.

The incident, which took place from November 2019 to December 2022, has raised concerns about the integrity of the market and the trust placed by investors and traders in cryptocurrency exchanges.

With South Korea’s cryptocurrency market valued at 19 trillion Korean won (approximately $14.3 billion) as of the end of last year, it ranks among the most significant cryptocurrency markets globally.

In response to the scandal, South Korean prosecutors are expanding their investigation to other local exchanges in their quest for additional evidence of cryptocurrency listing manipulations on the broader market.


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