South Korea Investigates 33 People for Illicit Crypto-Related Transfers

South Korea Investigates 33 People for Illicit Crypto-Related Transfers

July 7, 2021

A South Korean police investigation found that 33 people were allegedly engaged in illicit cryptocurrency overseas transactions worth $1.48 million (1.59 trillion won) over the last couple of months. According to The Korea Times, 14 of them were referred to the prosecutors, while four are still under investigation, and the authorities imposed fines on 15 individuals related to the case.

The authorities noted that it was a pan-government investigation carried out from April to September this year on suspicion of crimes related to money laundering and fraud committed with virtual currencies. Furthermore, the report noted that over 812.2 billion won in foreign currency were transacted after being traded on unnamed crypto exchanges.

“About 785.1 billion won concerned people falsifying their overseas remittance records for overseas purchase of digital currencies. Over 95.4 billion won concerned making cash withdrawals overseas with Korea-issued credit cards to buy cryptocurrencies there,” the media outlet noted. One of the individuals spotted by the authorities on the investigations was fined 12 billion won. He profited 10 billion won by trading Bitcoin (BTC) using 355 billion won in falsified invoices he sent to a paper firm set up overseas. In fact, concerns were raised after the individual made 563 transactions in a three-year period, who later used the fiat to acquire digital assets in foreign crypto exchanges.

Setting Up Paper Firms to Launder Money

There were other cases involving a university student, a salaried worker, and an owner of a trading company who also used sophisticated schemes to funnel the transactions. The salaried worker even traveled to another country to withdraw its profits from the illicit transactions in ATMs. “Virtual asset transfers under the guise of trade, travel, or study expenses are strictly prohibited. Violators will be subject to criminal prosecution or fines,” an official from the Seoul Customs Office commented.

South Korea has been active in cracking down on illicit activities that involve cryptocurrencies. Recently, the officials from the Gyeonggi provincial government in South Korea launched a massive crackdown on tax evaders who used cryptocurrencies to hide their earnings. As a result, over $47 million worth of digital assets were seized from 12,000 people who allegedly were involved in tax evasion.

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