Bill Seeks to Oblige South Korean Lawmakers to Declare Crypto Assets

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A new bill requiring South Korean lawmakers to disclose their cryptocurrency holdings has been proposed in Seoul. The legislative initiative comes amid a snowballing scandal surrounding the crypto dealings of an opposition lawmaker whose case has been referred to the parliamentary ethics committee.

New Legislation to Introduce Crypto Reporting Requirements for South Korean Parliamentarians

Representatives of the ruling People Power Party in South Korea’s National Assembly are proposing to oblige lawmakers as well as other public officials and candidates to declare their cryptocurrencies with a draft legislation that was announced before the weekend.

The bill, amending the Public Service Ethics Act, passed through a parliamentary subcommittee on Monday. The current law, which seeks to prevent conflicts of interest, requires lawmakers to disclose cash, stocks, and real estate within 30 days of election but does not mention crypto assets.

Under the new rules, sitting lawmakers must report their digital holdings by the end of next month, the Korean press reported. What’s more, the crypto requirements will be even stricter than those for other assets. Quoted by the Chosun Ilbo daily, Democratic Party member Chun Jae-soo explained:

Lawmakers are currently required to declare their cash and stock assets if they are worth more than 10 million won [$7,600], but with crypto holdings they will have to report even a single coin because the value fluctuates so widely.

Similar amendments had been put forward several times since 2018 but were derailed in committees, the newspaper noted. It remains to be seen if the proposal, including the scale of the disclosure, will pass this time when it reaches a plenary session.

Bipartisan Ethics Committee to Mull Disciplinary Action Against Lawmaker Involved in Crypto Scandal

The suggested update comes amid an ongoing political scandal centered on the crypto investments of another representative of the main opposition force in the South Korean parliament. Kim Nam-kuk, a first-term member of the National Assembly, was forced to quit the Democratic Party faction following accusations of conflict of interest and other irregularities.

Kim, whose case will be reviewed by the parliamentary ethics committee, came under intense scrutiny after revelations that he owned around 800,000 Wemix coins in 2021. At the time, they were worth around 6 billion won ($4.5 million), “a significant amount inconsistent with his frugal image,” Korean media noted. That same year, Kim sponsored a bill delaying crypto income taxation.

Meanwhile, South Korean prosecutors raided two of the country’s largest coin trading platforms, Upbit and Bithumb, within an investigation into the politician’s crypto trading. He is believed to have withdrawn his coins ahead of the enforcement of the so-called ‘Travel Rule’ which requires exchanges to report personal data about senders and recipients of crypto transactions exceeding 1 million won.

Do you think South Korean lawmakers will disclose their crypto holdings in full, if the law is adopted? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

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