A South Korean court has handed down a suspended prison sentence to a public official who stole thousands of US dollars worth of public funds to invest in cryptocurrencies.
According to Yonhap News, the civil servant was sentenced to one year of probation and two years of probation.
The official’s name was not released for legal reasons.
This person was in charge of budget expenditure at the administrative welfare center in Ulsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.
The court found that the officer siphoned public funds from the center totaling about $159,00 in 41 individual transfers.
And the court was told that officials tried to cover up their tracks by marking the embezzlement as an “expense.”
Huge sums of money were often written off as “stationery purchases” or “office supplies.”
The official also wrote off the embezzled money as a “deposit” and “payment of electricity bills.”
Rather, the court found that officials spent “most” of the embezzled funds on cryptocurrency investments.
The court was told that officials had already “suffered huge losses on their cryptocurrency investments” before they began raiding the Treasury.
Officials embezzled funds between June and December 2022.
Why did a “cryptocurrency enthusiast” South Korean civil servant escape prison?
Some media outlets have suggested the punishment is too light, especially as national news is still dominated by the Coingate scandal.
However, the presiding judge explained the reason for the sentencing as follows:
“[The court] Considering the fact that all the embezzled money was repaid to the local authorities. The court also took into account the fact that the defendant was likely to lose his job and that he actively cooperated with police and prosecutorial investigations.”
Last October, another South Korean civil servant fled abroad with $2.8 million worth of cryptocurrency.
Police believe the money was also embezzled from public funds.
Last week, police arrested a suspected cryptocurrency fraudster who allegedly defrauded victims of fiat and cryptocurrency holdings by posing as public officials.