The High Court of Singapore’s notable legal development is recognizing cryptocurrencies as a kind of property that can be held in trust. The court’s order on Tuesday involved contractor Ho Kai Xin and cryptocurrency exchange Bybit. Bybit’s headquarters are located in the Seychelles.
Bybit filed a lawsuit against Ho Kai Xin for breaching her employment agreement. The claim stated she transferred over 4.2 million USDT to addresses she controlled.
Judge Philip Jeyaretnam, presiding over the case, made a key pronouncement comparing USDT to any other kind of property and stating, “Like any other thing in action, USDT is capable of being held on trust.” The judge considered the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s consultation response. It supported the idea of holding digital assets in trust, released on July 3, 2023.
Singapore Landmark Ruling: Cryptocurrency as Property and Trust in the Digital Age
Courts can enforce cryptocurrency assets as incorporeal rights of property. The judge drew parallels with traditional currency’s value and general acceptance. He acknowledged the possibility of circularity in the conclusion.
Bybit was requesting a ruling in the lawsuit that Ho held the USDT and fiat currency in trust for the exchange. Ho asserted her cousin Jason Teo’s ownership and control of the addresses. She claimed he stole the assets from Bybit without her knowledge. After finding Ho’s claim unfounded, the judge mandated her to return the diverted assets to Bybit.
The historic decision has significant implications for considering cryptocurrencies as property. It also establishes a precedent in Singapore’s legal system. The ruling can serve as a guide for similar cases in other jurisdictions. As global cryptocurrency landscapes evolve, their relevance grows.