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An executive thought to be Bithumb's owner has been arrested in South Korea on charges of embezzlement, breach of trust and fraudulent illegal transactions.
Kang Jong-Hyun and his sister Kang Ji-Yeon were charged by the Seoul Southern District Prosecutor’s Office and an arrest warrant was requested by on 25 January 2022.
Ji-Yeon had served as the CEO of InBioGen and Bucket Studio - two listed Bithumb affiliates.
Bucket Studio is tied to Netflix hit Squid Game for owning 15% of lead actor Lee Jung-jae's agent Artist Company. Its stock price jumped 30% upon the announcement of season 2.
InBioGen is the largest shareholder of video equipment manufacturer Vidente, the single largest shareholder of Bithumb.
Prosecutors suspected Kang Jong-Hyun is the true owner of Bithumb and accused him and his and siblings of misappropriating company funds and stock price manipulation.
Another executive identified only as Cho was arrested along with Kang and has pleaded guilty to all charges.
Bithumb – Korea's biggest crypto exchange – was ordered by the Supreme Court earlier this month to pay damages to users who suffered losses during the platform's outage.
South Korea’s National Tax Service also initiated an investigation into Bithumb and its affiliates for tax evasion.
However, Bithumb's PR team has denied Kang's involvement with the company.
"Kang Jong-Hyun is not related to Bithumb Korea. Definitely, he was NOT the former chairman of Bithumb Korea. NEVER," the company's PR team said in an email. "We deny allegations and suspicions that he is our owner."
Bithumb's largest shareholder Park Mo was found dead in front of his home in a suspected suicide on 30 December 2022 following an investigation in which he was alleged to have embezzled funds from Bithumb affiliate companies.