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South Korean Public Official ‘Used Bribes to Buy Crypto,’ Police Claim

Yet another South Korean government worker appears to have used ill-gotten gains to fund their crypto cravings: After reports that a public official fled abroad with $2.8 million worth of stolen public funds that has been converted to crypto, it has emerged that another former official may have been extorting money from outsourcing firms – and spending it on crypto.

NoCut News reported that officers at the Gangneung Police Station, in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, arrested an unnamed former city official on charges of bribery and fraud on October 25.

The former official was described as being in their 30s, but no further details about their identity were released to the press.

However, the individual’s activities appear to have caught the attention of their employers: Gangneung City held a “personnel committee meeting” after “finding out” about the individual’s behavior in August – and eventually fired the individual.

The committee appears to have passed on its findings to the police, who began their investigation shortly after.

Officers claim that the former official “extorted hundreds of millions of [fiat] KRW” from construction companies by “abusing his position.”

The police added that the individual began receiving payments at “the beginning of 2022,” and is thought to have received over $140,000 worth of cash backhanders “from about 20 construction companies.”

The former official then allegedly proceeded to spend the money on a series of cryptoasset purchases. Police did not reveal which coins the individual had bought – or whether they have managed to seize the tokens.

The individual is thought to have asked firms to give him cash in exchange for guarantees that they would be selected to carry out new construction projects and repair jobs for the city.

A number of the projects included work on care facilities for senior citizens.

‘Crypto-holding’ Public Official on the Run

Earlier this week, prosecutors said they were hunting an individual surnamed Choi who appears to have fled abroad with money stolen from the country’s National Health Insurance Service. Officers think the suspect converted most or all of the stolen money to crypto – and may be holding the coins in an overseas crypto exchange wallet.

Prosecutors are also still hunting for Do Kwon, the missing Co-founder of Terraform Labs and the Terra ecosystem.

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