A former member of South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s 2017 electoral campaign team and a leading academic has been handed a two-year jail sentence for their part in a crypto scam that amassed over USD 18,200.
Per Yonhap and Fn News, the individual – undimmed by the courts and the media for legal reasons – is 65 years old, and was reportedly part of the campaign team that saw Moon win a landslide victory in the 2017 general elections. The individual is also a former professor, although the name of their university was also withheld. As part of Moon’s campaign team, the individual, whom the courts called “A,” was charged with helping to create financial policy.
But it appears A also had a lucrative sideline back in 2017 – namely promoting a crypto scam. The court heard that A had helped the promoters of a scam coin named Coal to sell their “tokens” to unsuspecting investors.
A, who was convicted on fraud charges, had claimed that they had simply “taken part” in “lectures intended to inform the public about cryptocurrency.” But prosecutors explained that these “lectures” were in fact investor recruitment sessions that helped A and a number of associates dupe some 5,000 people out of a total of over USD 18,200.
At the sessions, the court heard, A told attendees that the token’s protocols were “absolutely impossible” to hack and that it was an electronic currency that was “certified by authorities such as the [central] Bank of Korea and the regulatory] Financial Supervisory Service.”
The Coal coin CEO was sentenced to prison back in May this year, but the court was told that it was A who had given the “worthless” token a veneer of authority – despite the fact that A was fully aware that the token was a fake.
A also stated that investors could expect huge returns on investments in the token.
In sentencing, the presiding judge at a branch of the Seoul District Court stated:
“The defendant knew that the coin was worthless, but fostered the illusion that the development of the coin was completed. A’s contribution was not small. Some of the investors decided to part with their money on the basis of A’s recommendation.”
A, the judge added, “knew that the coin could not be used as planned and had no value unless it had passed strict proof and verification steps,” but hinted that the court had been lenient as “much of the damages [investors’ stakes]” had been “recovered.”