The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has reportedly suspended Bitget crypto exchange after a legal dispute with Hybe, an entertainment management agency for K-Pop boy band BTS.
According to an exclusive report published by Financial Times on December 5, the Singapore-headquartered exchange lost its operating license following a controversial listing of a new K-Pop-related crypto token dubbed Army Coin.
The legal standoff started on October 25, after Bitget crypto exchange shared a tweet promoting newly listed Army Coin named after popular South Korean boyband’s followers BTS. At the time, Hybe accused the crypto exchange of using misleading information to tease users:
“This coin exists for the benefit of BTS” and “ARMY coin aims to take care of BTS members for life.”
The K-Pop boy band BTS agency also accused Bitget crypto exchange of violating portrait rights by showcasing the “ARMY” ticker, BTS’s name, and virtual images without permission. While expressing its resentment about the matter at the time, Hybe announced:
“We are currently looking into the legal violations in this case, including the cryptocurrency’s infringement on our artists’ portrait rights without permission from or discussion with the agency. We will take legal action against all infringements and violations.”
Moreover, Hybe also publicly maintained that it had absolutely “no affiliation” with the Army coin and urged those that had already lost their funds to report the matter to the police.
On the other hand, Bitget also soon after defended its association with the Army coin, arguing that as a trading platform, it did not create the token itself and therefore cannot take any responsibility for it.
Meanwhile, although Bitget delisted the Army token on the Singaporean market on December 3, the coin is still available for trading in other jurisdictions, including South Korea, Australia, Canada, and the United States.
Launched in 2018, Bitget exchange has over 1.5 million registered users globally, after their most recent successful Series B expansion funding valued it at $1 billion.
Nonetheless, Bitget became popular after securing a sponsorship deal with Italian giant soccer club Juventus in September 2021, before becoming an official partner of PGL Major Stockholm in October 2021.
In June, Bitget also successfully signed a partnership deal with Circle, a stable coin issuer, to become one of the first exchanges to list USD Coin as collateral for trading crypto derivatives.