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Chinese crypto billionaire Justin Sun sued by SEC, Do Kwon busted in Casino Royale location, game with 180 million players embraces Polygon.
Our weekly roundup of news from East Asia curates the industrys most important developments.
Chinese crypto billionaire sued by SEC
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission on March 22 announced charges against Chinese blockchain personality and billionaire Sun Yuchen better known as Justin Sun and three of his wholly-owned companies: Tron Foundation Limited, BitTorrent Foundation Ltd., and Rainberry Inc., a firm formerly known as BitTorrent.
The complaint alleges that Sun and his companies fraudulently manipulated the secondary market for Tron (TRX) tokens through extensive wash trading,” conducting more than 600,000 such trades, and also paid celebrities to promote TRX and BitTorrent (BTT) tokens with zero disclosure.
The SECs civil complaint earlier today is just the latest example of actions it has taken against well known players in the blockchain and crypto space. We believe the complaint lacks merit, and in the meantime will continue building the most decentralized financial system.
— H.E. Justin Sun (@justinsuntron) March 23, 2023
Multiple prominent American celebrities, including Lindsay Lohan and Jake Paul, were named as defendants for their alleged roles in promoting TRX and BTT without proper disclosure. Some have since settled with the SEC. In addition, the SEC alleges that bounty programs and airdrops used to promote TRX and BTT were unregistered investments. Gary Gensler, the chairman of the SEC, commented:
“As alleged, Sun and his companies not only targeted U.S. investors in their unregistered offers and sales, generating millions in illegal proceeds at the expense of investors, but they also coordinated wash trading on an unregistered trading platform to create the misleading appearance of active trading in TRX.”
Justin Sun is an active figure in the crypto industry who rose to prominence via the $70 million initial coin offering of Tron in 2017. The ICO was reportedly conducted one day prior to the Chinese governments announcement of a blanket ban on all ICOs within the country. Sun, who reportedly left Beijing shortly after to move to San Francisco, used his newfound wealth from the successful ICO to acquire the peer-to-peer downloading platform BitTorrent.
Sun reportedly laid low while in the U.S. and presented himself as an honest businessman fleeing from the specter of communism. U.S. authorities have heard this sort of rhetoric before, however. On March 15, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had arrested Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui over his alleged role in an alleged $1 billion stock and crypto fraud scheme. Just days before his arrest, Guo shilled to his viewers the importance of his crypto exchange, blockchain technology and tokens he had created in the fight against communism.
The interest from U.S. authorities may have been behind Suns decision to move out of the U.S. in 2020 and into the sunny Caribbean island of Grenada. He has since become the countrys ambassador to the World Trade Organization. Aside from foreign relations duties and the bestowment of the fancy title His Excellency,” the role grants Sun a diplomatic passport that theoretically provides immunity against prosecution.
Despite the controversies, Sun appears to be doing quite well in his new home. Last November, Sun reportedly acquired 100% of the co-founders stakes in cryptocurrency exchange Huobi Global even though he publicly claims he is just a humble adviser” in Huobis everyday affairs.
In January, Asia Express reported that many Huobi employees benefits were allegedly axed via direct orders from Sun. In other areas, cryptocurrency exchange Binance has also significantly limited its utilization of Tron Tether (TRC-20 USDT) after regulatory backlash on its own stablecoin Binance USD.
“Thx for your support & advice on how to take #TRON to the next level!,” wrote Sun on Twitter following a $4.5M dinner with American billionaire investor Warren Buffet. Source: Twitter
Do Kwons bad bet at Casino Royale
If Do Kwon has anything in common with James Bond in the 2006 hit filmCasino Royale, it is that both found (or are currently finding) their stay in the beautiful seaside nation of Montenegro to be deeply unpleasant. On March 23, Filip Adzic, minister of the interior of Montenegro, announced that a South Korean national suspected of being the wanted fugitive Terraform Labs co-founder Do Kwon had been arrested at Podgorica Airport over falsified documents.
Shortly after the announcement, South Korean authorities confirmed that the detained individual is, in fact, Do Kwon based on a positive match of name, birth date, nationality and photographic evidence. Police say they are awaiting a fingerprint check from Montenegrin authorities to definitively identify the arrested individual.
Do Kwon is currently wanted by Interpol, as well as South Korean, Singaporean and U.S. authorities, for his role in the collapse of the $40 billion Terra Luna ecosystem in May. Last October, South Korean prosecutors revoked Kwons passport. He was reportedly hiding in Serbia at the time.
Serbia shares borders with Montenegro, a Balkan country that became independent in 2006 and, as a result, has signed few extradition agreements with other nations. However, an extradition agreement merely facilitates the process and is not a requirement for extradition to take place. Interestingly, South Korea does not have an embassy in Montenegro and vice versa.
Kwon had not been seen since late 2022 until news of his reported arrest. If anything, the blockchain executive has proven to be somewhat of a lackluster gambler. Aside from what appears to be a failed attempt to evade arrest and attempts to double down on the Terra Luna (LUNC) ecosystem, Kwon recently, and finally, lost an $11 million bet that the price of LUNC will be above $90 per token by mid-March 2023. LUNCs price was $0.0001259 at the time of publication.
Shortly after an Interpol Red Notice was issued, Do Kwon explained to journalist Laura Shin in an interview that Terra was never really about money or fame or success.” Source: Unchained
MapleStory moves into GameFi
On a happier note, South Korean gaming giant Nexon announced on March 22 that it had selected Ethereum layer-2 scaling solution Polygon (MATIC) to power the blockchain ecosystem for the multiplayer 2D fantasy role-playing game MapleStory.
According to Nexon, a Polygon supernet created by Polygon Labs will be deployed within Maplestory to allow players to earn and collect in-game items as nonfungible tokens. Ryan Wyatt, president of Polygon Labs, said:
“Nexon selecting Polygon Supernets to power its worldwide hit MapleStory Universe sends a strong message to the entire gaming industry about the future of blockchain gaming.”
Last January, Wyatt announced his resignation as head of gaming at YouTube and joined Polygon Studios as its new CEO.
Created in 2003, MapleStory has immense popularity in the Asia-Pacific region and has surpassed 180 million registered players. In-game items are currently purchased using Nexons currency, NX. The company reported $2.6 billion in revenue in 2022 and has developed over 50 games since its inception.
MapleStory embraces blockchain technology after going strong for 20 years. Source: Nexon
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