The prosecutor involved in the investigation said the firms turned up on their radar in January for suspicious transfers between bitcoin exchanges. Chosun also reported that the police alleged UPbit of committing fraud by deceiving its investors with an inflated balance sheet.
In a statement posted on its homepage, Upbit confirmed it was being investigated by prosecutors and was cooperating with authorities. An official from the office of the Seoul Southern District Prosecutors, who has asked for anonymity due to office policy, stated that the offices of Upbit, one of the world's largest crypto exchanges, was raided by prosecutors raided on Thursday 10th and Friday 11th of May. Upbit is now the fourth largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world by 24-hour trade volume. UPbit services such as all transactions and withdrawals are operating normally.
"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. "Upbit is suspected of "paper trading", as the number of cryptocurrency wallets it has access to is considerably smaller than the amount of cryptocurrency traded on its platform". Anonymous sources told Neuner that the investigation revealed a liquidity issue between exchanges in the local market, which ultimately led the authorities to believe UPbit initiated an unauthorized reallocation of client funds. The CEO of one of those platforms, Coinnest, was arrested on suspicion of embezzlement and fraud as a result of the inquiry into that exchange's operations.
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Despite some commentators considering the user flight in light of the inspections as an "overreaction", the episode appears to underscore the sway South Korean traders still exert over the market.
Image courtesy of Coinmarketcap and Shutterstock.
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