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(2nd LD) Gov't to seek range of measures to curb cryptocurrency speculation, crimes

All Headlines 16:00 December 13, 2017

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with additional info throughout)

SEOUL, Dec. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's government decided Wednesday to seek a series of measures to curb cryptocurrency speculation and crimes, including barring minors from trading cybermoney and opening investment accounts, officials said.

During an emergency meeting of senior officials from related ministries, the government also decided to prohibit local financial institutions from possessing, purchasing or investing in the virtual currencies.

The measures also include checking the identities of those doing bank transactions related to cybermoney investments.

The government will push for legislation to protect investors and enhance transparency in the cryptocurrency trade, officials said.

As for the operation of the cybermoney exchange, the government will seek to obligate it to prevent money laundering and report any suspicious trade. It also plans to clearly define a series of banned practices related to the initial coin offering and punish them.

Moreover, the government will form a task force to consider whether to levy taxes on financial gains from the cybermoney trade after a study of foreign cases.

Police will seek a "timely" special crackdown on any fraud or hacking related to cybermoney trade or investments.

The move came amid growing concerns about possible financial damage to local investors.

Cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin and ethereum, have rapidly gained popularity in recent years. South Korea is home to one of the world's largest bitcoin exchanges, with about 1 million people estimated to own some of the best-known digital currency.

Wednesday's meeting brought together officials from the ministries of justice, finance, and science and ICT, as well as from the Financial Services Commission, the Korea Communications Commission, the Fair Trade Commission and the National Tax Service.

Top officials from related ministries and bodies hold an emergency meeting on ways to curb cryptocurrency speculation at the central government complex in Seoul on Dec. 13, 2017. (Yonhap)


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