Authorities in Seoul have reportedly raided the offices of Bithumb, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea.
According to local news outlet Seoul Shinmun, a special crime unit at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency conducted a search and seizure operation at Bithumb’s headquarters in the Gangnam District on Sept 2.
The raid was reportedly part of an ongoing fraud investigation centering around Bithumb chairman Lee Jung-hoon.
Bithumb’s Alleged Fraud
Mr. Lee has been in police crosshairs for his part in alleged fraud in connection with the issuance of the Blockchain Exchange Alliance token (BXA).
The BXA token was promoted as a utility token for Bithumb’s ecosystem, and it initially raised almost $25 million in ICO funding. This presale was based on the promise that BXA would be listed on Bithumb in conjunction with an acquisition (organized by Lee) of Bithumb by the Singapore-based BK Group.
That deal ultimately fell through, the token was not listed, and has subsequently seen its value plummet—leaving investors holding the bag.
A group of investors is pursuing a legal case against Bithumb, claiming it is responsible for their financial losses due to broken promises of listing the BXA token on the exchange.
One investor claims that he placed over a million dollars in the tokens, which are now worth just over ten thousand dollars.
Korean Authorities Crack Down
Bithumb is South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange and the fifth-largest crypto exchange by daily trading volume globally. According to the initial report by Seoul Shinmun, Bithumb’s average number of visitors from May to July 2020 was 4.11 million.
The news of this raid is part of a broader crackdown by Korean law enforcement. As reported by BeinCrypto, the offices of another major Korean exchange, Coinbit, were raided by authorities on Aug 27. In this case, Coinbit is accused of manipulating 99% of its trade volume, money laundering, and embezzlement.