Korean Parliament Recognizes Virtual Assets as Legitimate Property in Assets Disclosure Bill

Korean Parliament Recognizes Virtual Assets as Legitimate Property in Assets Disclosure Bill

A new bill has been approved by South Korea’s National Assembly, mandating high-ranking government officials and legislators to disclose their virtual assets in an assets report. The amendment to the Public Service Ethics Act now also covers virtual assets, such as cryptocurrencies, that were previously excluded from the assets report. The bill, approved on May 25, 2023, aims to enhance transparency and fight against corruption in the public sector.

The Crypto Asset Bill

This bill was proposed by a parliamentary subcommittee on May 22, 2023, and later passed by the National Assembly. The bill requires public servants to disclose their virtual assets, including cryptocurrency, on an annual basis. The subcommittee’s objective was to curb the use of virtual assets by public officials for illegal activities such as tax evasion and money laundering.

The recent amendment to the Public Service Ethics Act requires elected and high-ranking government officials to disclose their digital assets, including cryptocurrencies, in their annual asset declaration reports. The primary aim of the legislation is to encourage transparency and deter unethical behavior among public servants. Additionally, the modification aims to regulate the use of digital assets in South Korea.

The Ethics Act prohibits the misuse of public resources beyond a negligible or unimportant amount, as described by the de minimis principle. Neglecting to reveal digital assets could be interpreted as an abuse of public resources.

South Korean Crypto Community 

The digital currency community in South Korea is rapidly expanding and is one of the fastest-growing in the world. Earlier, South Korea became the third-largest Bitcoin market globally, following Japan and the United States. 

Approximately, around 2 million people, comprising 3.9% of the total population of South Korea, hold cryptocurrency. South Korea is also acknowledged as the top cryptocurrency hub in Asia and houses major cryptocurrency exchanges like Upbit, BitHumb, CoinOne, Korbit, and Gopax. The South Korean market contributes to nearly 30% of global cryptocurrency trading.