South Korea’s Financial Intelligence Unit is cracking down on 16 foreign currency cryptocurrency exchanges operating illegally in the country. “Illegal business activities by unregistered entities may result in a maximum of 5 years in prison or a fine of up to KRW 50 million,” the regulator said.
16 was suggested by the South Korean inspector
South Korea’s top financial regulator, the Financial Services Commission (FSC), said on Thursday that the country’s Financial Intelligence Unit (KoFIU) had notified investigating authorities of the illegal business activities of 16 unregistered virtual asset service providers (VASPs).
KoFIU is South Korea’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the lead agency in the Asian country for Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT).
The 16 entities are Kucoin, MEXC, Phemex, XT.com, Bitrue, ZB.com, Bitglobal, Coinw, Coinex, AAX, Zoomex, Poloniex, BTCEX, BTCC, Digfinex and Pionex.
All 16 crypto exchanges are based outside of Korea without a formal local presence, the regulator said, adding that they were found to be engaging in crypto trading activities aimed at local consumers. For example, they offer Korean-language websites, host promotional events targeting Korean users, and offer a payment option that supports the purchase of crypto assets using credit cards in the country.
KoFIU notified foreign-based crypto exchanges that they must register their business with the authority on July 22 last year. However, the 16 entities mentioned above continue to operate in South Korea without obtaining registration.
The official said in detail:
Illegal business for unregistered entities, maximum 5 years imprisonment or up to 50 million KRW [$38,000] Penalties may be imposed with restrictions for registering as a VASP in the domestic market for a limited period of time.
The regulator explained that the financial authorities in the regions hosting the service providers will receive information and the related credit card system will be stopped in the domestic market. In addition, “the authorities have issued an administrative directive requiring the suspension of transactions between registered and unregistered entities, making it impossible to transfer virtual assets to 16 unregistered entities,” KoFIU said.
“The authorities plan to take the necessary measures,” the regulator emphasized, to stop crypto service providers from operating without registration in South Korea.
KoFIU will continue to closely monitor illegal business activities by unregistered entities and cooperate closely with relevant authorities.
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