The Ledger: South Korea gets tough … and so might global regulators, eventually

The Asian technological powerhouse made a series of moves this week to clarify a number of situations.

South Korea grabbed the attention of the crypto world this week, with several issues (some good, some bad, some somewhere in the middle) arising from Asian industrial and technology powerhouse.

First, Korean crypto executives reportedly carried out illegal activities to make a profit of more than 2.98 billion Korean won ($2.26 million) during coin listings from various projects, according to local media reports.

Four men – two executives and two brokers – have been charged with breach of trust and obstruction of business for market manipulation.

But, had they been a public official, things might have been a lot more transparent to begin with, as lawmakers from the country’s ruling party have now initiated a new bill requiring all public officials and candidates to disclose their cryptocurrency holdings.

The proposal, announced on Friday 19 May, aims to expand the scope of reported financial assets to include virtual assets, such as cryptocurrencies.

The new bill intends to forgo public officials from using their position to “improperly accumulate wealth or conceal assets,” said right-wing lawmaker Lee Man-hee, in a proposed amendment to the Public Official Ethics Act.

But even before those rules come into place, South Korean officials raided two major crypto exchanges as they probe transfers made by former lawmaker Kim Nam-kuk.

Prosecutors searched accounts at Upbit and Bithumb after Kim was accused of conflict of interest over cryptocurrency withdrawals he made in 2022. Messaging app Kakao was also searched due to Kim using its crypto wallet service Klip.

And a move towards more rules and regulations, the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has said it will soon enable licensed platforms to serve retail investors. The SFC made an announcement stating operators of virtual asset trading platforms can apply for a licence – providing they comply with the SFC’s proposed guidelines.

The virtual asset trading platform guidelines will include cybersecurity standards, asset custody safety requirements, and the segregation of client assets, among other prerequisites.

And moves towards a system of global crypto regulation also continued, with the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) calling on global regulators to be faster and bolder when it comes to cryptocurrency markets.

Martin Moloney, secretary-general of IOSCO, said: “The diversity we’ve got at the moment across jurisdictions is not that they’re moving in different directions, but that they haven’t gone far enough in the direction that they all know they should go in.

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Written by Edward Pearcey

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