New reports suggest that the South Korean government is intensifying its
moves against the country's bitcoin exchanges.
Reuters reported tonight that Bithumb and Coinone were raided by police and
tax office officials on Wednesday and Thursday. Citing employees of the two
exchanges, which are among the largest in South Korea, the news service said
officials visited their offices amid an investigation into alleged tax
"Local police also have been investigating our company since last year, they
think what we do is gambling," a Coinone employee told Reuters. The employee
said that the exchange was cooperating with the investigation.
Separately, South Korean news service SBS has reported that the South Korean
Justice Department is moving to prepare legislation that would pave the way
for exchanges in the country to be shut down entirely.
"The Ministry of Justice will set up its own bill, which sees the virtual
money brokerage itself as illegal and completely closes the exchange, and
plans to start full-fledged ministry discussions this week," the service
reported, according to a translation.
The news represents a significant expansion in the growing scrutiny applied
to the crypto-exchange space by South Korean regulators. Earlier this week,
the Korean Financial Intelligence Unit and the Financial Supervisory Service
announced that they were inspecting six unnamed banks for compliance with
anti-money laundering and know-your-customer regulations.
The government had already declared in December that it would move to apply
more scrutiny amid growing trade volume at the exchanges, including moves to
curb anonymous trading.
Exchanges in South Korea have consistently seen prices well above those seen
on other marketplaces. Indeed, it's a circumstance that earlier this week led
to a controversial change by one popular data service to begin excluding some
of the country's exchanges from its cryptocurrency price averages.
Image Credit: Pius Lee / Shutterstock.com
Editor's Note: Some of the quotes from this report have been translated from
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