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South Korea focuses on OTC crypto regulations as unlawful deals reach $4B

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South Korean regulators have turned their focus to over-the-counter (OTC) crypto trades amid growing concerns about their use for criminal activities. The financial regulators in the country are reportedly monitoring trading in the OTC crypto market.

According to a report published in a local daily, deputy chief prosecutor Ki No-Seong and Park Min-woo of the Financial Services Commission (FSC) and other vital regulatory officials attended a session on “Criminal Legal Issues Related to Virtual Assets” with a focus on the unregulated OTC crypto market. During the event, No-Seong called for regulating the OTC crypto market due to money laundering concerns.

A Google-translated version of Seong’s statement read:

“Illegal virtual currency OTC companies have overseas corporations and are engaged in the business of converting illegally obtained virtual currency into Korean won or foreign currency. There is a need to regulate these companies as undeclared virtual asset trading businesses.”

The term “OTC crypto market” describes exchanges that are not officially recognized by the government. Digital currency OTC transactions include all transactions outside regulated platforms, including peer-to-peer (P2P) exchanges. According to the report, there are a total of 172 cryptocurrencies available on Upbit, the largest regulated crypto platform in South Korea, while OTC platforms offer up to 700 cryptocurrencies.

The report cited several instances of the use of OTC platforms to convert digital assets into Korean won. The International Crimes Investigation Department of the Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office arrested and indicted three people on charges of engaging in illegal foreign exchange transactions between October 2021 and October 2022.

Related: Coin Center responds to US lawmakers’ request for crypto tax guidance

The arrested trio were found to be purchasing $70.9 million (94 billion won) worth of digital currency from overseas OTCs at the request of Libyans and then sending it to Korea to be converted into cash, according to the report. The value of unlawful foreign exchange transactions made using digital currency was estimated by the Korea Customs Service to be worth $4 billion (5.6 trillion won) last year.

Over the years, South Korea has become known for its stringent crypto regulations and has several regulations in place to tackle crypto-related crimes. The country’s regulators have become more proactive in the wake of Terra’s collapse.

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