South Korean lawmakers have unanimously approved a new bill that requires public officials and candidates to disclose their cryptocurrency holdings starting in 2024. The bill, which amends the Public Service Ethics Act, aims to promote transparency and accountability within the public sector. Previously, officials were only required to report assets such as cash, stocks, and bonds exceeding a certain threshold. However, cryptocurrencies and virtual assets were not included in the disclosure requirements until now.
The legislation, spearheaded by conservative lawmaker Lee Man-hee, not only introduces the disclosure provision but also imposes restrictions on the investment amounts permitted for officials involved in the cryptocurrency sector. The goal is to regulate the involvement of public servants in the rapidly expanding crypto industry and mitigate potential conflicts of interest. The unanimous decision by the 269 lawmakers present at the National Assembly demonstrates strong support for the amendments.
This new mandate was prompted by the discovery of a former member of the opposition Democratic Party possessing crypto assets valued at a minimum of $4.5 million, raising concerns about money laundering, conflicts of interest, and insider information exploitation.
Unlike countries like China and Saudi Arabia, which have chosen to ban cryptocurrencies, South Korea has opted for a regulatory approach despite the challenges associated with digital assets.