Back in 2017 33-year old South Korean Ahn was arrested and charged with running an illegal pornography site. It was found that he had accumulated 216 Bitcoins while running the site, and the prosecution demanded to seize the funds. The district court, however, rejected the demand on the basis of the existing law:
“It is not appropriate to confiscate bitcoins because they are in the form of electronic files without physical entities, unlike cash. […] Virtual currency cannot assume an objective standard value.”
The prosecution wasn’t satisfied with the ruling and appealed the decision, so the case was directed to the Supreme Court. The new ruling was a surprising one, as it grants cryptocurrency the status of a traditional asset:
“The bitcoins were earned from the proceeds of crime. […] If we return the bitcoins to Ahn, it will be giving him back profits that were earned illegally from running an online porn site. The cryptocurrency is recognized to have value so it can be confiscated.”
Although the Supreme Court doesn’t have any legislative power, the recognition of Bitcoin as an asset by such a powerful institution is a step in the right direction. Ahn has lost the case, but his the court’s ruling is definitely a win for the crypto-community.