South Korea said Monday it plans to crack down on any illegality involving cryptocurrencies, such as money laundering, until June amid skyrocketing prices of virtual money.
The interagency crackdown comes as the latest frenzied buying of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies raises concerns about speculative investments and potential illegal activities, according to the Office for Government Policy Coordination.
“There is a need to pay special attention to the occurrence of illegal activities using virtual assets,” Koo Yun-cheol, head of the office, said at a vice-ministerial meeting on cryptocurrencies.
The Financial Services Commission (FSC), the financial regulator, will require local financial institutions to strengthen their monitoring on withdrawals of virtual money. If any signs of suspected money laundering are detected, they should report them to the state-run Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), an agency tracking unlawful flows of funds.
The finance ministry and the Financial Supervisory Service, the financial watchdog, also plan to keep close tabs on illegal transfers of virtual assets abroad. The state tax agency will zero in on alleged tax dodgers stashing away assets in cryptocurrencies.
Investors have been heavily buying virtual currency as they see it as a lucrative asset amid the new coronavirus
outbreak, while the stock market remains dull.