‘Crypto is property,’ rules Singapore court
- Bybit claimed that a contractor abused their position to transfer crypto assets to personal accounts.
- “Like any other thing in action, USDT is capable of being held on trust,” ruled the court.
Singapore’s High Court has classified crypto as property in a case involving crypto exchange Bybit.
The Seychelles-based crypto exchange Bybit sued a contractor, alleging a breach of employment contract. Bybit claimed that the contractor abused their position to transfer over 4.2 million Tether [USDT] to personal addresses. They also wired $120,000 in fiat currency to their personal bank account.
According to the published court document, the presiding court judge said,
“Like any other thing in action, USDT is capable of being held on trust.”
The ruling says that crypto assets are enforceable through court orders and capable of being subject to a trust.
The judge underlined that though there is skepticism around the value of crypto assets, one should understand that value is not inherent in an object.
The ruling highlighted that according to Order 22 of the Rules of Court 2021,
“Movable property” includes “cash, debt, deposits of money, bonds, shares or other securities, membership in clubs or societies, and cryptocurrency or other digital currency.”
The judge also cited a public consultation response published by the Monetary Authority of Singapore in July. The paper reads that “it is possible in practice to identify and segregate digital assets,” bolstering the opinion that crypto can be held on trust.
Court rules in Bybit’s favor
Bybit sought a declaration from the contractor that they were holding funds in both crypto and fiat on trust for Bybit. The contractor accused their cousin of stealing these assets from ByBit without their knowledge.
Based on the Balance of Probability standard, the judge ruled that the cousin “does not exist” and “did not play the role asserted.” The contractor took advantage of their employment with WeChain (WeChain is a Singapore-based financial firm offering payroll services for ByBit). The contractor transferred those funds to personal accounts.
A judge at the Singapore court ruled that the contractor needs to return those crypto assets to Bybit.
This is the first time a common law court has made such a ruling.