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Anti-Corruption Commission Reveals South Korean Lawmakers Traded $98M in Crypto Over Past Three Years

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The Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission has revealed that South Korean lawmakers engaged in crypto trading, totaling a staggering 125.6 billion won ($97.6 million) over the past three years.

The commission’s 90-day inspection into the virtual asset transaction records of all 298 sitting lawmakers between May 30, 2020, and May 31, 2023, exposed irregularities in some instances, prompting concerns over the transparency and ethics of such financial activities, the commission revealed on Friday.

Lawmakers’ Crypto Activities Under the Spotlight

According to the commission’s findings, 18 lawmakers possessed virtual assets during the specified period, with 11 actively trading, accumulating buying and selling amounts reaching 62.5 billion won ($48.4 million) and 63.1 billion won ($48.8 million), respectively. The report raises questions about the nature of these transactions and the financial gains associated with them, leaving the motives behind such dealings unclear.

The inspection also shed light on the diverse portfolio of virtual assets held by lawmakers, encompassing a total of 107 types. Bitcoin emerged as the most popular choice among the legislators, reflecting the prevailing trend in the cryptocurrency market.

Discrepancies and Recommendations

Further scrutiny uncovered discrepancies in the holdings and transaction records of 10 lawmakers compared to their voluntary declarations earlier this year. The investigation also revealed a case where a lawmaker conducted 49 cryptocurrency transactions without reporting them to the National Assembly, citing a closed cryptocurrency exchange account.

Interestingly, changes in the virtual asset holdings of three lawmakers occurred during standing committee meetings, suggesting that some may have been conducting transactions during parliamentary duties. The commission clarified that, although this behavior did not violate conflict of interest prevention laws, it raises ethical concerns regarding lawmakers’ focus on their legislative responsibilities.

As the commission highlighted the unclear receipt and withdrawal records of some lawmakers regarding virtual assets, it recommended the establishment of a parliamentary rule mandating lawmakers to report their virtual asset holdings. This proposal comes as a measure to enhance transparency and accountability within the National Assembly, particularly in light of the upcoming term after the April 10 general elections.

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