South Korean Prime Minister Urges Inclusion of Cryptocurrencies in Property Registration of High-ranking Officials

South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo has emphasized the need to include cryptocurrencies in the property registration of senior government officials. Currently, cryptocurrencies are not registered, and officials have the discretion to decide whether to disclose their digital asset holdings.

The Bureau of Congressional Affairs has raised the question of whether officials own cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin during their asset declarations this year. Prime Minister Han Deok-soo, addressing reporters at the Sejong Government Complex, stated that cryptocurrency should be included in the property registration of high-ranking officials.

South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo

The Prime Minister’s remarks were made in response to the ongoing coin scandal involving Representative Kim Nam-guk. Prime Minister Han proposed that the National Assembly discuss and decide on the inclusion of virtual currencies, particularly in light of the issues surrounding the recent scandal. He expressed personal agreement with the idea of including cryptocurrencies in the property registration process.

Drawing a parallel, Prime Minister Han mentioned that certain valuable assets like precious metals already require registration beyond a certain threshold. He suggested that similar registration requirements could be implemented for cryptocurrencies.

The demand for thorough investigations into the ownership of cryptocurrencies by high-ranking officials and their inclusion in property registration has gained traction following the revelation of Representative Kim’s significant cryptocurrency investments. Presently, cryptocurrencies are not subject to property registration, and officials have the authority to decide whether or not to disclose their digital assets based on their individual judgment.

Park Beom-soo, the secretary for agricultural and marine affairs in the presidential office, disclosed a change in the property details, stating that the cash value previously reported as 3 million won had decreased to 1.5 million won. The reason cited for this change was listed as “Bitcoin value change.”

Another notable case involves Lee Seung-yeon, a member of the Busan Metropolitan City Council, who reported selling all of their cryptocurrency holdings in the previous year. Representative Lee declared the sale of cryptocurrencies worth 209 million won from the Bithumb exchange account and 60 million won from the Upbit exchange account. Notably, the reported purchase amounts from the previous year were 297 million won and 110 million won, respectively, resulting in a loss of approximately 130 million won over the course of a year.

It has also come to light that the National Assembly Secretariat has requested officials to disclose whether they possess cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin in their property reports for this year. The ‘2023 Periodic Property Change Report Guide,’ issued by the National Assembly Secretariat in January, stipulates that if individuals hold virtual assets (cryptocurrency) like bitcoin, they must indicate this information when reporting changes in their property. This requirement extends to explaining the reasons for increases or decreases in cryptocurrency holdings as of December 31, 2022.

Representative Kim, who reported property worth 832.41 million won immediately after being elected to the National Assembly in 2020, saw his assets increase to -1.181 billion won in 2021, -1.26794 billion won in 2022, and -1.53378 billion won in 2023. However, he did not disclose his cryptocurrency holdings during these periods.

The call to include cryptocurrencies in the property registration of high-ranking officials reflects the growing concerns surrounding digital assets and their potential influence on the financial and political landscape. By subjecting officials to registration requirements, transparency can be improved, ensuring greater accountability and preventing potential conflicts of interest. The proposal, if implemented, could have significant implications for the regulation and oversight of cryptocurrencies within South Korea’s governmental framework.

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