The South Korean financial intelligence unit (KoFIU) has ordered the investigation of 16 foreign crypto exchanges for operating illegally in the country. KoFIU is the lead agency in South Korea for anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism matters. It notified the investigative authorities about the 16 unregistered virtual asset service providers (VASPs).
The regulator said the 16 crypto exchanges are based outside Korea without a formal domestic presence. Moreover, the platforms have been found to be engaged in crypto business activities targeting domestic consumers. The agency said the crypto exchanges offer Korean-language websites, host promotional events targeting Korean customers, and provide a payment option that supports the purchase of crypto assets using credit cards in the country.
The KoFIU gave notification to the platforms on July 22 2021 to register their business with the authority. But they have continued to operate in the country without obtaining registration. The regulator said for illegal business activities of unregistered entities, maximum of five years imprisonment or a fine of up to $38,000 can be imposed. There will be restrictions on registering as a VASP in the domestic market for a certain period of time.
The agency outlined that financial authorities in the jurisdictions hosting the service providers will be informed and related credit card processing will be halted in the domestic market. Furthermore, transfers of virtual assets to and from the 16 unregistered entities will be restricted. Authorities have divulged administrative guidance for the suspension of transactions between registered and unregistered entities. KoFIU said the authorities plan to take the necessary measures to stop crypto service providers from operating without registration in South Korea. It continues to closely monitor illegal business activities carried out by unregistered entities. The agency wants to maintain close cooperation with relevant authorities.