Suspicious Transactions in Virtual Assets Surge by Nearly 49% in 2023

SEOUL - Reports of suspicious transactions involving virtual assets, including cryptocurrencies, saw a significant increase in 2023, according to South Korea's financial watchdog.

According to Yonhap News Agency, there were 16,076 suspicious transaction reports (STR) related to virtual assets last year, marking a 48.8 percent rise from the previous year. This increase contrasts with a more modest 10.2 percent rise in the total number of STRs reported during the same period. The FSC also noted that the number of cases involving virtual assets that were forwarded to legal authorities for further investigation surged by nearly 90 percent, although the exact figure was not disclosed due to confidentiality considerations. The suspected activities encompassed a range of illicit dealings, including unfair trading practices, illegal foreign currency transfers, and drug trafficking.

Furthermore, the FSC highlighted specific instances where virtual asset providers were reported to law enforcement for causing significant losses to investors through unfair trading practices, suspected of conducting unauthorized cross-border currency transactions, and engaging in drug trafficking using virtual currencies. In addition to these findings, the Korea Financial Intelligence Unit, under the FSC, referred approximately 100 cases related to illegal private lending practices to the prosecution. These cases came to light during a special inspection carried out between December and January, aimed at clamping down on unscrupulous loan sharks.

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