- Singapore’s High Court recognized crypto as property.
- The judge ordered Ho Kai Xin to refund a large amount of USDT to ByBit.
- The ruling sets a precedent for enforcing crypto ownership within the confines of the law.
In a landmark ruling, a Singapore High Court recognized crypto as property whose ownership rights can be exercised via a trust.
Judge Jeyaretnam ruled in a case filed by ByBit against Ho Kai Xin, a former company employee. The exchange went to court, seeking a declaration that the respondent was holding both USDT and fiat currency on trust for ByBit.
ByBit to Reclaim 4.2 Million USDT
Citing Order 22 of Singapore’s Rules of Court 202, the judge compared USDT to “movable property,” which they asserted extends to cash, debts, bonds, securities, shares, cryptocurrencies, and other digital assets.
The judge further referenced the consultation paper by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which seeks to implement segregation and custody requirements for digital assets used as payment tokens.
Based on these references, the court ordered Ho to refund 4.2 million USDT to ByBit. Throughout the case, Ho had shifted blame to a non-present cousin named Jason Teo, alleging that he was the one that had transferred the USDT to different accounts without her knowledge.
The court found that only Ho could access ByBit’s Excel files containing employee payment details. On different occasions spanning from May to August 2022, Ho allegedly manipulated the files, transferring 4,209,720 USDT into crypto wallets controlled by her.
Another Win for Crypto in the Corridors of Justice
The ruling comes a year after the High Court of Justice in London ruled that NFTs can represent personal property, granting them protection rights under the law. The presiding judge ordered OpenSea to disclose information on two accounts suspected of holding the stolen digital goods of Lavinia D. Osbourne, CEO of Women in Blockchain Talks.
On the Flipside
- The decision was made on a balance of probabilities that the non-present cousin, Jason, doesn’t exist or didn’t play any role asserted to him by the respondent.
- The landmark ruling applies only in Singapore and doesn’t constitute the views or legal landscape of other embattled jurisdictions, such as the USA.
Why This Matters
The High Court’s ruling is a great precedent for crypto users who have long hoped that a legal body would finally recognize digital assets as legal property, enforceable through courts of law.