South Korean tax authorities seized more than $47 million worth of crypto assets from 12,000 citizens in a tax sting in one of the world’s liveliest markets for buying and selling digital belongings.
Officials called it the largest “cryptocurrency seizure for back taxes in Korean history,” the Financial Times reported.
South Korea crypto fever has fuelled a nationwide boom led by citizens as young as 20, while older generations in their 40s and 50s are catching up in the investment craze, according to a study published in January.
But the government and bankers have remained cautious about the mushrooming interest in all kinds of cryptocurrencies, saying it poses a financial risk to the nation’s savings culture. Saving money in Korea is so important that there is a national event — Savings Day — marked on Korean calendars
Local exchanges that did not collect resident registration numbers of account holders were used to concealing assets, according to the Gyeonggi government. That was one of the reasons for the seizure of crypto assets.
Investigators used mobile phone numbers to track down alleged tax evaders. They included a “renowned home-shopping channel show host” who held $440,000 worth of crypto and owed more than $17,000 in taxes.
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“We are going to do our utmost to guard law-abiding taxpayers and fulfil our truthful taxation mandate by probing and tracing belongings that tax dodgers could also be concealing within the midst of the current cryptocurrency buying and selling fervour,” said Kim Ji-ye, director-general of the Gyeonggi Province Equity Bureau, in a FT interview.
The seizure forms part of a broader crackdown on the crypto industry in South Korea as the country tries to tackle fraud and money laundering.
Crypto exchanges have until September to register as virtual-asset service providers with the South Korean financial regulator so the legality of their operations can be determined.
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