SEOUL – The South Korean authorities have unearthed cryptocurrency crimes, including money laundering and illegal foreign exchange trading, amounting to 637.5 billion won ($597.7 million) so far.
That information was provided in a report released Wednesday by South Korea’s customs service, which said that the increase in speculation activity involving cryptocurrencies in the Asian country increases the possibility of illegal withdrawal of foreign currencies and other illegal transactions.
South Korean investors bought 1.7 billion won worth of cryptocurrencies, which were later sent to overseas operators through virtual wallets, and converted into fiat currencies, which amount to illegal capital outflows, according to the authorities.
One of the largest illegal trades involved 4 billion won sent to offshore deposits without being declared, the report said.
The customs authority added that it would continue to monitor the use of cryptocurrencies in cases such as illegal currency trading or money laundering.
The report comes a day after South Korea launched measures to ban trading in cryptocurrencies using anonymous bank accounts to curb money laundering and other illegal activities at a time when the United States is making efforts to regularize these markets.
South Korea is one of the main world markets for digital currencies with nearly 30 percent of the country’s workers having investments in them, according to several surveys.
The new regulation, which came into force on Tuesday, requires cryptocurrency exchange operators to share the investors’ transaction data with the banks, something that could allow Seoul to impose taxes on these transactions in the future.
The South Korean government has hinted at the possibility of collecting taxes from investors, and banning the trading of cryptocurrencies, a market that is barely regulated in the Asian country.