A Singapore court has made a landmark ruling in the ongoing dispute between Lee Jeong-hoon, the founder and former chairman of South Korea-based digital asset exchange Bithumb, and Kim Byung-kun, the chairman of BK Medical Group.
According to a report by local news outlet Business Korea, the Singaporean court ruled that Kim should return the proceeds from the sale of Bithumb coin (BXA)—the native tokens of the exchange—to Lee.
The dispute began in 2018 after the two parties set up a joint company—BTHMB—in Singapore to buy a majority 50.1% stake in Bithumb Holdings for about KRW400 billion (US$293.7 million). The deal fell through after Kim failed to meet his obligation, making only two payments totaling KRW120 million (~US$88,117).
Following this, Kim accused Lee of defrauding him in the deal in a South Korean court. He claimed that Lee refused to help list the BXA token on Bithumb to raise funds for the acquisition.
Conversely, in 2019, Lee and BTHMB filed a civil suit in Singapore that Kim had engaged in the sale of BXA tokens without his consent, demanding that the proceeds be returned to him. It is this civil suit that the Singapore court has now ruled on after three years of deliberation.
According to a related report from Aju Economy, another local media outlet, Lee’s legal team has presented the Singapore court ruling as evidence in the ongoing South Korea lawsuit. In Singapore, a trial on a criminal case about Kim’s embezzlement and breach of trust is still in progress.
Bithumb has continued operating as normal
The lawsuit is not the only controversy that Bithumb has been linked with. Over the years, the exchange has suffered several hacks, including a $20 million exploit in 2019. The exchange also faced several regulatory probes and lawsuits on suspicions of investment fraud.
Just this week, a court ruled on one of the filed lawsuits, which has been dragging on since 2017, according to a Newsis report. In its ruling, Bithumb was directed to pay damages to a group of 190 investors who suffered losses due to an outage the exchange suffered.
Despite the backdrop of the legal battle, Bithumb has continued to carry out its operations. Along with exchanges like Upbit, Coinone, and Korbit, Bithumb has continued to dominate the South Korean digital assets market. In July, CNBC reported that FTX was in talks to purchase Bithumb.
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