US$600m illicit trade in crypto detected
South Korea has uncovered illegal cryptocurrency foreign exchange trading worth nearly US$600 million, a sign authorities are tightening the regulatory screws on the digital asset that many global policymakers consider to be opaque and risky.
The country’s customs service said in a statement yesterday that about 637.5 billion won (US$596.02 million) worth of foreign exchange crimes were detected. “Customs service have been closely looking at illegal foreign exchange trading using cryptocurrency as part of the government’s task force,” Customs said, underscoring stepped-up efforts by Seoul to crack down on illegal trade in the digital asset.
Illegal foreign currency trading of 472.3 billion won formed the bulk of the cryptocurrency crimes, Customs said, but gave no details on what action authorities were taking against the rule breaches.
South Korea has adopted a tough stance on regulating cryptocurrency trading as many locals, including students and housewives, jumped into a frenzied market despite warnings from policy makers around the world of a bubble.
Effective from Tuesday, authorities allowed only real-name bank accounts to be used for cryptocurrency trading designed to stop virtual coins from being used for money laundering and other crimes.
Customs said there were also cases where investors in Japan sent their yen worth 53.7 billion won to their partners in South Korea for illegal currency trade.
It said authorities will monitor for any violations of foreign exchange rules or of money laundering activities.