South Korean Crypto Exchange Faces Illegal Gambling and Money Laundering Charges

A South Korean police department has confirmed that it would put forward recommendations for charging local cryptocurrency exchange CoinOne for offering margin trading services that actually constituted illegal gambling, CoinDesk reports citing Korean news outlet Yonhap.

South Korean police cracked down on the exchange platform in August 2017. Following a ten-month investigation, police officers found that nearly 19,000 CoinOne users have participated in the so-called margin trading in the period between November 2016 and December 2017. Of them, 20 traders were targeted after being found to have handled large trading volumes.

They were found to have processed more than KRW3 billion (approximately $2.8 million) in up to 13,000 different margin trading instances using CoinOne. The police concluded that the services provided by the exchange represented illegal online gambling. It is understood that the 20 traders will be referred to a prosecutor’s office to be charged for alleged money laundering activities and illegal online gambling.

CoinDesk reported that three CoinOne executives, including the platform’s CEO, Myunghun Cha, will, too, be recommended to be charged for providing illegal gambling services that could be used for criminal purposes such as money laundering.

Facts and Figures about South Korea’s Cryptocurrency Fever

Last year, South Korea, a country with population of 51 million people, emerged as the world’s third-largest Bitcoin trading market. In addition, the country comprised nearly 20% of global Ethereum trading and was home to two-thirds of the biggest Ethereum exchanges in the world.

South Korea’s cryptocurrency boom actually took off not that long ago, but took the crypto world by storm. The fever for trading occurred after Korean investors became disenchanted with real estate as both properties’ prices and interest rates vaulted. Domestic stocks also became less attractive due to the introduction of tougher requirements and multiple restrictions.

Following the unprecedented boom of cryptocurrency trading in South Korea, local regulators became more alert and undertook multiple crackdowns that swept across the whole country. A ban on Initial Coin Offerings was another major manifestation of the growing regulatory pressure.

There were, in fact, speculations that the ongoing cryptocurrency market downtrend was to a great extent influenced by the regulatory occurrences in South Korea.

Despite the regulatory hurdles, there have been multiple indications that South Korea’s and Southeast Asia’s major crypto exchanges are bullish on the future of cryptocurrency trading and are planning expansion moves to various cryptocurrency-friendly jurisdictions, with Malta being one such jurisdiction.

At press time, Bitcoin trades at $7,677.07. The world’s top cryptocurrency by market capitalization reached an all-time high of over $19,000 in mid-December only to plunge significantly almost overnight and never recover. Ethereum, the other favorite among South Korean traders, currently trades at $606.38, with market capitalization standing at around $60.6 billion. It reached its all-time high of over $1,200 in mid-January 2018 but lost momentum quickly.

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