South Korean Law Firm Chief Jailed for Stealing Customer Money to Invest in Crypto

Tim Alper

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South Korean Law Firm Chief Jailed for Stealing Customer Money to Invest in Crypto

A South Korean law firm operator was jailed in Busan on March 11 after being found guilty of stealing clients’ money to spend on crypto investments.

The media outlet Newsis reported that the case was heard at the Criminal Division of the Busan District Court. The court sentenced an unnamed individual in their 50s to 20 months in jail.

South Korean Law Firm Boss ‘Embezzled Client Money’


The lawyer stole $170,000 on December 27, 2021, the court heard. Prosecutors said the lawyer transferred money from a company account into their personal bank account.

The money came from a corporate client, who had given the money to the firm to complete a real estate deal as part of a trust contract.

However, the court heard, the accused instead “stole the money and used it for personal purposes,” namely crypto investments.

On another occasion, the court heard, the South Korean law firm chief stole a registration fee from a private client worth just under $1,700.

The crypto investments appear to have been ill-fated. Prosecutors said they were unable to retrieve any of the stolen funds.

The presiding judge, Justice Jeong Soon-yeol of the District Court’s 11th Criminal Division, said:

“The amount of damage sustained is large. And none of the stolen money has been recovered. Considering these factors, I have no choice but to hand out a severe punishment in this case.”

South Korean City Sees Rise in Crypto-related Crime?


Busan judges are no stranger to crypto-related cases. In December last year, police in the southern city swooped on a gang of over 80 suspected crypto scammers.

Busan on a map of South Korea.
Busan on a map of South Korea. (Source: Dmthoth [CC BY-SA 3.0])

In January, the same division of the District Court jailed a drug dealer, who used crypto as a payment tool, for seven years.

Korean bankers misrepresented risky China-linked structured products to retail investors, a watchdog says https://t.co/mLtYadfyqQ

— Bloomberg (@business) March 11, 2024

Also in January, a district court in nearby Changwon jailed an individual who gave a bogus crypto exchange illegal bank documents. The court sent the forger to prison for four years.