South Korean officials recently approved a proposal to amend the country’s Public Service Ethics Act to include virtual assets, including cryptocurrency.
Currently, government officials must report stocks, bonds, jewelry, gifted memberships and other holdings worth more than 1 million Korean won — approximately $760 — but no such disclosure is required for digital assets under existing South Korean law.
The proposal comes in the wake of a scandal involving Kim Nam-kuk, a former member of the South Korean Democratic Party. Kim’s been accused of cashing out more than $4.5 million in cryptocurrency last year ahead of a change in the law that would have limited such activities.
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In response to the allegations, Kim claims he wasn’t required to disclose activities surrounding his digital assets and that he never liquidated his holdings — which reportedly amounted to approximately 800,000 Wemix coins ($4.5 million) — but merely transferred them to another exchange. Kim subsequently left the South Korean Democratic Party to become an independent as he mustered his defense.
The South Korean government has responded by drafting an amendment to the existing law that would roll digital assets such as cryptocurrency into legislation requiring disclosing other assets.
Per a translation of a government notice concerning the proposed amendment provided by Google Translate:
“Recently, it was found that an active member of the National Assembly has a large amount of virtual assets, but it is missing from the disclosure details of the lawmaker’s property, which is pointed out as a loophole in the law.”
The amendment was proposed and approved by a subcommittee on May 19. According to the document, it will be submitted for a final vote in a plenary session on May 25.
South Korean lawmakers have engaged in a flurry of activity surrounding the regulation of cryptocurrencies and related assets since the May 2022 collapse of Luna and the Terra blockchain. This includes a sweeping cryptocurrency regulatory package proposed in April 2023 that would seek to impose harsher penalties for related crimes with increased fines and sentences ranging between a year and life in prison.