south korea bans cryptocurrency trading

The Justice Ministry of South Korea has announced plans to ban cryptocurrency trading. While this is not a ban on the use and holding of cryptocurrency, the effect on exchanges is already being felt. Multiple Korean cryptocurrency exchanges have been raided by local tax authorities and police. The alleged crime? Tax evasion. The finance ministry had increasingly been looking into local cryptocurrency exchanges, especially as their activity grew to eclipse that of Korean stock exchanges such as Kosdaq. Korean official Park Sang-ki said at a press conference:

“There are great concerns regarding virtual currencies and justice ministry is basically preparing a bill to ban cryptocurrency trading through exchanges.”

Korean cryptocurrency exchanges raided by authorities

The two largest Bitcoin exchanges in Korea, Coinone and Bithumb, were raided during this past week. According to a Coinone employee that spoke to Reuters under conditions of anonymity, the exchange is cooperating with authorities on the tax matter. He said:

“Local police also have been investigating our company since last year, they think what we do is gambling.”

In addition to exchanges, the finance ministry is also looking into the banks that are providing virtual currency account services to exchanges, and possibly other companies. According to reports, six local bank are under the eye of financial authorities for offering such services.

Cryptocurrency Market Cap retreats on false news of Korean cryptocurrency trading ban

Since the release of this news, cryptocurrency markets across the world have reacted to the news negatively. Korean exchanges were a major driver of volume prior to these events, and were largely perceived to have captured the activity of other Asian cryptocurrency traders, such as those in China. Which cryptocurrency exchange becomes the top of the pack now, remains to be seen. One thing seems certain though, the days of the top volume exchanges being based in South Korea and driving the all time highs are long gone.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) proposed regulations that will curb unlicensed bitcoin futures trading within the country.

The proposed regulations, announced by the CFTC on Friday, explicitly place bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies under the framework for “actual delivery” that currently governs the purchase of physical commodities such as gold and oil.

Under this framework, exchanges and traders must demonstrate an ability to physically deliver the commodities to their owners within 28 days of purchase. Otherwise, the purchase constitutes a futures contract and is subject to a litany of other regulations governing futures trading.

The full text of the proposed regulatory language has been reproduced below

(1) a customer having the ability to: (i) take possession and control of the entire quantity of the commodity, whether it was purchased on margin, or using leverage, or any other financing arrangement, and (ii) use it freely in commerce (both within and away from any particular platform) no later than 28 days from the date of the transaction; and

(2) the offeror and counterparty seller (including any of their respective affiliates or other persons acting in concert with the offeror or counterparty seller on a similar basis) not retaining any interest in or control over any of the commodity purchased on margin, leverage, or other financing arrangement at the expiration of 28 days from the date of the transaction.

The key point in the proposed language is that the seller may not retain “any interest in or control over any of the commodity” for more than 28 days following the date of the transactions. According to a 23-page document (PDF) accompanying the proposed regulations, this includes exchange-controlled deposit wallets where the trading platform operators — not the traders — retain control of the private keys.

Although the CFTC has long classified bitcoin as a commodity, the physical delivery provision was a thorny issue for cryptocurrency market participants because bitcoin does not exist as a physical entity.

Last year, the CFTC reached a $75,000 settlement with overseas exchange Bitfinex after the commission found that the exchange continued to hold the purchased bitcoins in exchange-controlled wallets after the actual delivery exception expiration date.

The Bitfinex case highlights an important point regarding the extent of the commission’s jurisdiction. The regulations would not just apply to U.S.-based exchanges, but also foreign trading platforms that provide services to Americans. Consequently, this regulatory guidance could lead overseas exchanges that offer margin trading to further restrict access to U.S. residents.

The CFTC will accept public comments on the proposed bitcoin regulations for 90 days, a period that will commence following their publication in the Federal Register.

sec ico pr

Today, the US Securities and Exchange Commission issued a press release regarding the IPO of PlexCoin stating that it had obtained an emergency asset freeze with the intention of stopping the ICO (Initial Coin Offering, see below) ‘scam’ that had gained traction extremely quickly. PlexCoin, the currency in question had raised $15 million in a month from a large number of investors. The SEC filed a complaint in a New York federal court stating that Dominic Lacroix, their partner Sabrina Paradis-Royer, and PlexCorps had sold PlexCoin over the internet to a large number of investors, claiming that it would provide a 1354% profit in less than a month. All three have been charged with violating anti-fraud provisions, while Dominic Lacroix and PlexCorps have also been charged with violating the registration provision in US federal securities law. The SEC has stated it also wishes to file permanent injunctions and discouragement with interest against all three, and that it wishes to ban both Dominic and Sabrina from offering digital securities in the future, and Dominic from holding an officer or director position in a public company.

PlexCoin is the first ICO scam punished by SEC, but not the first ICO scam

These are the first charges filed by the SEC’s new cyber unit, and the chief of the unit, Robert Cohen stated: “This first Cyber Unit case hits all of the characteristics of a full-fledged cyber scam and is exactly the kind of misconduct the unit will be pursuing”. Other ICO scams in the past include Langpie.

What is an initial coin offering?

Initial Coin Offerings are cryptocurrencies where you can purchase some currency before the coin launches. It is typically used as a form of crowdfunding for cryptocurrencies to get off their feet, for example, ethereum used an ICO in 2014 before its launch in July 2015. ICOs are also used as a scam, as it does not require much other than a website and some false promises – So long as you can get exposure and you make the right promises, there is quite a bit of (illegal) profit to be made