Cryptocurrency Is Asset With Measurable Value, South Korea’s Supreme Court Rules

South Korea’s Supreme Court has ruled that cryptocurrency can be seen as property with economic value that can be subject to forfeiture in criminal cases.

On Wednesday, the top court upheld an appellate court ruling that 191 bitcoin ($1.4 million at press time) should be confiscated from a person named Ahn, who had been previously found guilty of running a pornographic website in violation of South Korea’s Protection of Children and Juveniles From Sexual Abuse Law.

A lower court had previously ruled that Ahn’s cyber assets cannot be seized since they have no physical form and only exist electronically. In the May 30 ruling, the Supreme Court recognized cryptocurrency as an “asset with measurable value” that can be confiscated.

“The bitcoins were earned from the proceeds of crime,” the high court said. “If we return the bitcoins to Ahn, it will be giving him back profits that were earned illegally from running an online porn site.”

Ahn was arrested and indicted in May 2017 for allegedly distributing 235,000 obscene pictures online. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined 696 million won ($650,000 USD) by a lower court.

This marks the first time that the court has ordered the confiscation of a cryptocurrency. The ruling may allow any cyber assets gained from illegal activity such as gambling, drug deals, pornography and prostitution to be confiscated.

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