According to a report by the Korean Customs Service, illegal foreign exchange deals involving virtual currency were valued at $4B last year.
South Korean regulators have shifted their attention to over-the-counter (OTC) crypto transactions in response to rising concerns over its criminal use. The country’s financial regulators are reportedly monitoring the OTC cryptocurrency market.
According to a report in a local newspaper, deputy chief prosecutor Ki No-Seong, Park Min-woo of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), and other vital regulatory officials attended a session on “Criminal Legal Issues Related to Virtual Assets” with a focus on the unregulated OTC cryptocurrency market.
During the occasion, the deputy chief prosecutor, No-Seong, advocated for regulating the over-the-counter (OTC) cryptocurrency market due to money laundering concerns.
Google’s translation of Seong’s statement reads as follows:
“Illegal virtual currency OTC companies have overseas corporations and are engaged in the business of converting illegally obtained virtual currency into Korean won or foreign currency. There is a need to regulate these companies as undeclared virtual asset trading businesses.”
The term “OTC crypto market” refers to cryptocurrency exchanges that the government does not recognize. Over-the-counter (OTC) virtual currency transactions encompass all transactions outside regulated platforms, including peer-to-peer (P2P) exchanges.
According to the report, Upbit, the largest regulated crypto platform in South Korea, offers 172 cryptocurrencies, while OTC platforms offer up to 700 cryptocurrencies.
Several instances of OTC platforms being used to convert virtual assets into Korean won were cited in the report. The International Crimes Investigation Department of the Incheon District Prosecutor’s Office arrested and indicted three individuals between October 2021 and October 2022 for engaging in illicit foreign exchange transactions.
According to the report, the arrested trio was purchasing $70.9 million (94 billion won) worth of virtual currency from overseas OTC at the behest of Libyans and sending it to Korea for conversion into cash.
The value of unlawful foreign exchange transactions conducted using virtual currency was estimated by the Korea Customs Service to be worth $4 billion (5.6 trillion won) last year.
South Korea has developed a reputation for its stringent crypto regulations and has several regulations in place to combat crypto-related offenses. Following the demise of Terra-Luna, the country’s regulators have become more proactive.