The executives South Korea’s cryptocurrency exchange UPbit have been formally charged by the country’s prosecutors, CoinDesk reported.
The Prosecutors’ Office of the southern district of Seoul has indicted three senior staff members, including founder Song Chi-Hyung, on charges of fraud.
The executives are alleged to have made fraudulent transactions between September to December of last year, using a fake corporate account to make bogus orders worth 254 trillion won (or $226.2 billion) to inflate trading volume figures and attract more customers to the exchange.
They are also accused of selling 11,550 bitcoins to customers to reap 150 billion won (or $133.8 million) through rigged transactions.
However, UPbit denied the allegations in a notice issued Thursday, stating that, “The Company provided liquidity to the Company’s corporate account in order to stabilize the trading market at the beginning of the service opening. This period is from September 24, 2017 to December 11, 2017.” The exchange added that the corporate account does not have a withdrawal function.
Upbit said that has “not benefited or traded” in this process, though it conceded it had made some transactions early for marketing purposes over about two months. They did not affect the market, UPbit claimed, and comprised about 3 percent of the total volume at the time.
In May this year, the financial investigation team of the Seoul Southern District public prosecutors’ office sent prosecutors and investigators to UPbit headquarters in the Gangnam District to secure computer hard disks and accounting records. According to prosecutors, the company was transferring funds from customer accounts to a separate account.
Additionally, the exchange was suspected of fraud for allegedly selling cryptocurrency to customers that it does not actually hold.
Later, South Korea’s major accounting firm Yoojin revealed results of an audit of UPbit’s cryptocurrency holdings, confirming that the exchange did not inflate its balance sheet and deceive investors.