South Korea Report Shows Suspicious Crypto Transaction Increased by 50% in 2023 

On Wednesday, the financial intelligence unit (FIU) in South Korea lamented that crypto-related crimes have risen despite the regulators’ corrective steps. In the February 14 announcement, FIU noted a 49% increase in susceptible crypto transactions in 2023. Compared to 2022, FIU officials noted that unlawful crypto transactions have been on the rise year-over-year. 

Increase in Crypto Crime

Notably the surge in illicit crypto transactions forced South Korean regulators to intensify their operations in the digital sector. According to the announcement, the FIU team plans to launch a strategic initiative to regulate the crypto industry.

Also, the FIU officials outline their 2024 work plan, which will involve scrupulous supervision of the crypto industry. Since 2022, FIU officials have enforced preventive measures to address crypto crime.

Beyond this, the FIU team has been urging crypto enthusiasts to report illicit activities in the digital sector. The regulators noted the prevalent use of crypto in money laundering and unlawful foreign exchange outflow. 

The officials observed that despite the measures taken to address crypto crime, the unlawful activities doubled in 2023. A review of the FIU report demonstrated that unlawful crypto transactions increased from 10,797 in 2022 to around 16,076 in 2023. This implies that illicit use of crypto cases increased by nearly 10% from 2022. 

South Korean Law Enforcers Seek to Address Crypto Crime

Moreover, the FIU official noted that the reported cases of crypto crimes surged by 90% in 2023. Based on the FIU analysis, crypto crime has risen year-over-year. Upon contacting the FIU to inquire more about the nature of reported crypto crime cases, the FIU team did not comment. 

Guided by the specified Financial Information Act, the FIU failed to clarify whether the local exchange were impacted by the reported crypto crime cases. Besides the unlawful crypto activities, the FIU official noted that more than 100 crypto firms offered lending services without registering with the South Korean regulatory agencies.

The FIU team clarified that the unregistered crypto firms were reported to multiple enforcement units in South Korea, including the National Police Agency (NPA) and National Tax Service (NTS). 

In the latter, the FIU team stated that the agency extracted data concerning the reported suspicious transactions in December last year and January 2024. Based on the impact of the crypto crime on the South Korean economy, the FIU plans to take decisive steps to protect the investors from exploitative activities.

Factors Hindering Crypto Growth

The FIU team intends to provide extensive training and education on matters concerning crypto regulation. The enforcement unit believes equipping the FIU crypto team with fundamental skills in digital assets will mitigate financial crimes.

Furthermore, the FIU team plans to invest in developing a virtual asset analysis system that will support tracing the movement of crypto assets. The proposed analysis tool will monitor the complex movement paths and gather necessary details concerning a crypto transaction under probe.

In an earlier report, The Korean Times hinted that FIU will introduce a preemptive trading suspension device for reporting suspicious crypto transactions. The agency confirmed that the new device will freeze funds on the platform to allow the regulators to conduct their investigations.

The proposed development demonstrates South Korea’s commitment in apprehending criminals looming in the crypto sector. On February 7, the Financial Service Commission (FSC) revealed plans to enact new rules on digital assets.According to FSC, criminals generating over $3.8 from unlawful crypto activities will receive life imprisonment.

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