South Korean Police Officers on Trial in ‘Crypto Fraud Bribes’ Case

South Korean Police Officers Face Legal Proceedings in ‘Crypto Fraud Bribes’ Lawsuit

Two police officers in South Korea are currently on trial for alleged bribery charges in a high-profile cryptocurrency fraud case. The Gwangju District Court’s Criminal Division initiated the trial of a 59-year-old superintendent police officer and a 57-year-old police lieutenant from the same station. The case revolves around a crypto fraudster named Tak, who is accused of orchestrating an art-themed altcoin scam. Tak allegedly deceived multiple crypto enthusiasts out of approximately $2.1 million in fiat currency and cryptocurrencies. Specifically, he is accused of operating a fraudulent Ethereum (ETH) and NFT-related project, convincing citizens to invest in a fake crypto company.

During the course of the investigation into Tak, he engaged the services of a 62-year-old individual named Seong, who acted as his legal “broker.” Prosecutors claim that Seong paid the superintendent police officer over $7,300 in cash bribes on two occasions in exchange for promoting the police lieutenant to a higher rank. According to reports, Seong met with the superintendent officer in restaurants on February 4 and 15. Both police officers have been suspended from their positions until the trial concludes. The police lieutenant previously appeared in court in January on separate bribery charges related to the same case.

Seong seems to have established a network of contacts within the local police force and the Gwangju and Mokpo prosecution services. Tak has admitted to providing Seong with money to bribe prosecution officials and police officers in an attempt to clear his name. However, this plan quickly unraveled, and a Mokpo prosecutor was recently sentenced to one year in jail for accepting a bribe from Seong. The prosecutor was found guilty of receiving money and favors in exchange for revealing sensitive details about the case.

Seong confessed to putting envelopes filled with cash into the coat pockets of both police officers, as they were hanging on pegs at the restaurant. The superintendent officer’s legal team challenged the accuracy of this account, questioning why Seong would make a promotion request in February when the police force typically finalizes its list of promotion candidates in the preceding month. During cross-examination, the defense lawyers questioned Seong about explicitly asking the superintendent to promote his subordinate when delivering the alleged bribes. Seong claimed that he did not remember many details about the events from February 2022, attributing his lack of recollection to being in a hurry at the time.

The court proceedings will resume on June 11, with more police officers expected to face trial in the coming weeks and months. The prosecution has indicted 18 individuals in relation to this case, including current and former prosecutors, police officials, and another individual acting as a broker.