A TV presenter and doctor are among thousands of wealthy South Koreans whose cryptocurrency has been seized in a tax sting, as a crackdown intensifies in one of the world’s most active markets for trading in digital assets.
More than 53 billion won ($47 million) in bitcoin, ethereum and other crypto assets have been seized from 12,000 people accused of tax evasion after a months-long investigation, according to officials from the Gyeonggi Provincial Government, which oversees the greater Seoul region.
Governments around the world have sought to take a more active role in Cryptocurrency regulation In response to a years-long boom in Unregulated trade and mining. Bitcoin has experienced a rollercoaster ride this year, jumping above $60,000 before dropping to Less than $30,000 This month.
“We will do everything in our power to protect law-abiding taxpayers and implement our fair tax mandate by investigating and tracking down assets that tax evaders may be hiding in the midst of recent crypto-trading fervor,” said Kim Ji-yi, general manager of Kim Ji-yi Corporation. Gyeonggi Province.
The confiscation came after a broader investigation into the taxes owed on about 140,000 people and is the latest in a series of measures tighten control Crypto markets by financial regulators in South Korea.
Gyeonggi officials said it was the largest “delayed tax crypto confiscation in Korean history,” noting that local exchanges were used to hide assets because they did not collect resident registration numbers for their account holders.
To keep track of their account details on cryptocurrency exchanges, investigators compared mobile phone numbers registered by tax evaders.
Officials said the cases included: “a popular home channel shopping show host” who owed 20 million won in taxes but held 500 million won of Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies; A property owner of about 30 condos owes 30 million won in income tax and owns 1.1 billion won in crypto assets; A doctor failed to pay about 17 million won in back taxes but owned 2.8 billion won in bitcoin.
Officials added that they would initiate bankruptcy and liquidation proceedings on assets if “habitual and big tax evaders” did not voluntarily pay their back taxes.
Many of the 60 crypto exchanges in South Korea are struggling to meet the regulatory requirements to operate after September.
The Financial Services Commission, the regulator, has set a deadline for Korean exchanges to partner with local banks to open real-name accounts for customers. But local lenders are resisting partnering with dozens of smaller exchanges over fears they could be exposed to money laundering and other financial crimes.
The Korean government is also making plans to introduce a new income tax on cryptocurrency trading.
Additional reporting by Kang Bosung and Song Joong-a in Seoul