Bitcoin an Asset With Value, Declared by South Korean Court

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Bitcoin an Asset With Value, Declared by South Korean Court

In May 2017, a 33-year old South Korean man, was arrested for the distribution of child pornography. The man distributed the images via his own pornographic website, which since 2013 earned him around $1.7 million (USD) worth of Bitcoin. The man, referred to as Ahn, had been sentenced to 18 month in prison, along with a fine totaling around $646,000 (USD).

There had been questions about whether the court could legally confiscate the man's remaining 191, of 216 Bitcoins he had earned illegally through his website. Prosecutors' appeal to confiscate the Bitcoins was initially turned down by a lower court. The court's decision was based on their understanding that Bitcoin were not a physical commodity, only existing digitally, and therefore could not be confiscated.

The appeal was then presented to South Korea's high court, which determined an historic ruling:

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

This ruling now puts Bitcoin in a category of an asset, due to it's measurable value, and therefore is not off-limits for confiscation to the judicial system when gained illegally.

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