South Korea’s Supreme Court ordered on Wednesday the seizure of 191 Bitcoins from a man involved in a cybersex crime. The 33-year-old identified as Ahn was a pornography website director. Starting in 2013, Ahn distributed 235,000 porn-related pictures. In May 2017, the pornographer was arrested for child pornography, which is an illegal act under the Protection of Children and Juveniles from Sexual Abuse Law. The perpetrator who earned 1.9 billion won (US$1.7 million) from his illegal acts is now facing 18 months of jail and a $640,000 fine.
Lower Court’s Ruling
During the proceeding in the lower court, said court ruled against seizing Ahn’s digital assets and held that digital coins have no physical form and only exist electronically. But in an appeal by the prosecutor to the Supreme Court, said higher court reversed the decision stating that “The Bitcoins were earned from the proceed of crime.” The court then said that “If we return the Bitcoins to Ahn, it will be giving him back profits that were earned illegally from running an online porn site.”
In fact, there is no difference between possessing digital assets in a digital wallet and possessing wealth. Thus, cryptocurrencies have an economic value.
Still, it remains unclear how authorities will handle the seized digital coins.