The Korea Herald

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지나쌤

Korea making public servants disclose virtual assets

By Kim Arin

Published : May 25, 2023 - 19:34

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Rep. Kim Nam-kuk of the Democratic Party of Korea heads to his office at the National Assembly building in Yeouido, central Seoul, on May 14. (Yonhap) Rep. Kim Nam-kuk of the Democratic Party of Korea heads to his office at the National Assembly building in Yeouido, central Seoul, on May 14. (Yonhap)

South Korea will soon begin requiring its public servants to disclose any ownership of digital assets in the same way they do traditional financial assets.

The National Assembly convened a plenary session Thursday and passed an amendment to the laws on public service ethics to include cryptocurrencies in their financial disclosures.

Under the public service ethics laws, lawmakers and high-ranking public servants such as Cabinet members must regularly disclose their assets and investments. The amendment passed on Thursday subjects virtual currencies to such disclosures.

The amendment also allows heads of public agencies to restrict public servants whose duties may pertain to potential conflict of interests from holding virtual assets.

The move to treat virtual assets the same as traditional assets follows an insider trading scandal surrounding one Democratic Party of Korea lawmaker -- Rep. Kim Nam-kuk -- and his massive virtual fortune valued at some 6 billion won ($4.5 million).

The Financial Services Commission’s Financial Intelligence Unit reported Kim’s transactions from two years ago to Seoul prosecutors as suspicious.

Kim, who built a reputation as a young middle-class lawyer who worked his way up, has denied the allegations in radio and news interviews. He has been absent from the public eye shortly after his departure from the party.

The 40-year-old lawmaker is awaiting a parliamentary ethics committee deliberation on the allegations against him.