Singapore court declares crypto as property in case involving Bybit

Quick Take

  • Singapore’s High Court ruled crypto assets are things in action, which are capable of being enforced in court, and capable of being held on trust.

Singapore's High Court has deemed crypto as property in a case involving crypto exchange Bybit and a contractor. A court judgement published Tuesday declared crypto assets are property capable of being held on trust.

Judge Philip Jeyaretnam also ruled crypto assets were things in action; an intangible property type, like a cash balance at a bank or money due on a bond. Specific to the case, the court determined USDT is property capable of being held on trust. However, the judge did not see the need to restrict this to USDT. “Like any other thing in action, USDT is capable of being held on trust,” Judge Jeyaretnam said.

In making his ruling Jevaretnam cited the Monetary Authority of Singapore's (MAS) consultation paper on proposed amendments to the payment services from early July. He stated the MAS proposals showed “it is possible in practice to identify and segregate such digital assets." This supported his view that “it should be legally possible to hold crypto assets on trust."

Jeyaretnam concluded that crypto assets were a thing in action, capable of being enforced in court. "The holder of a crypto asset has in principle an incorporeal right of property recognizable by the common law as a thing in action and so enforceable in court," he added. 

Bybit vs Ho Kai Xin

The judgement involved Seychelles-based exchange Bybit and contractor Ho Kai Xin. Bybit brought a case against Ho in October 2023, claiming that she breached her employment contract to transfer over 4.2 million USDT to addresses owned and controlled by her. After receiving the funds it was claimed that Ms Ho went on a spending spree.

"ByBit had discovered Ms Ho had made several substantial purchases from July 2022 onwards, including a freehold penthouse apartment with her husband, a brand new car, and several Louis Vuitton products," the court heard.

In her defence, Ho said the alleged fraud was perpetrated by her cousin “Jason,” whom she claimed had gained unauthorized access to her work laptop. However, based on the Balance of Probability standard, the judge concluded “Jason” did not exist, and granted summary judgment in favor of ByBit. 

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