South Korea introduces life imprisonment for crypto criminals under new consumer protection rules

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8th February 2024 – (Seoul) South Korea’s financial regulator announced on Wednesday that crypto criminals will face life imprisonment when new consumer protection rules come into effect this July. The Financial Services Commission (FSC) proposed the Virtual Asset User Protection Act in December, and the regulations will be implemented on 19th July. These rules aim to address market manipulation, illegal trading, and other violations, with corresponding criminal punishments or fines based on the severity of the offence.

According to the FSC, in cases where criminal punishment is warranted, individuals could face imprisonment for more than one year or fines amounting to three to five times the unjust enrichment they gained. Furthermore, if the proceeds from the criminal activity exceed 5 billion won ($3.8 million), the perpetrators may be sentenced to life imprisonment, as stated in the notice.

South Korea has been actively bolstering its oversight of the digital asset sector, with a specific focus on consumer protection. Various initiatives have already been approved, compelling companies and public figures to disclose their cryptocurrency holdings. These measures aim to enhance transparency and accountability within the industry.

The introduction of life imprisonment for crypto criminals reflects the seriousness with which South Korea views illicit activities in the digital asset space. The government is determined to safeguard investors and consumers from fraudulent schemes and illegal practices. By imposing strict penalties, they aim to deter potential wrongdoers and create a safer environment for crypto-related transactions.

The new consumer protection framework aligns with South Korea’s broader efforts to establish a robust regulatory framework for the cryptocurrency industry. The country has been proactive in addressing the potential risks and challenges associated with digital assets, while also recognizing the potential benefits they can bring to the economy. By implementing comprehensive regulations, South Korea aims to strike a balance between fostering innovation and protecting its citizens.