Prosecutors in South Korea aim to imprison executives believed to be involved in a $651 million cryptocurrency scam for as long as 15 years.
According to the media source Asia Kyungjae, around 8,000 individuals reportedly lost their money due to this scheme.
The alleged fraudsters purportedly enticed people with “payouts” if they settled their utility bills using cryptocurrencies through a specific platform called OnNetworks.
However, the company allegedly failed to uphold these commitments, leaving investors without a means to retrieve the funds they invested.
The trial is taking place at a subsidiary of the Seoul Southern District Court.
Prosecutors are seeking a 15-year prison sentence for the CEO of OnNetworks, identified by the surname Park, and a five-year term for another executive from the company with the surname Kim.
Additionally, they aim to incarcerate an individual named Yeom, who is the CEO of a company affiliated with OnNetworks, for a duration of 12 years.
S Korean ‘Crypto Scammers’ Plead for ‘More Time’ to ‘Replay Victims’
The court was informed that the defendants initiated OnNetworks in 2021 and kept on “enlisting members” for their service until February of the following year.
Supposed victims were allegedly promised cashback-style returns ranging from 4-9% for transactions made via the platform.
During a hearing this week, approximately 10 purported victims were present and “urged the court to mete out punishment” to Park and the rest of the accused.
Park pleaded to the court:
“I seek the victims’ forgiveness and request the court to grant me two months. I am confident in my ability to compensate the affected individuals.”
However, Yeom refuted any direct participation in the purported fraud, stating,
“While I hold moral accountability as a company executive, the events were beyond my direct control and responsibility.”
Just last month, the Seoul Southern District Prosecutors’ Office collaborated to inaugurate a dedicated crypto crime investigation team. This robust team, consisting of 30 investigators, includes members from the prosecution service, the regulatory Financial Supervisory Service, the National Tax Service, and the customs bureau.