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PM calls for tighter discipline after official found to profit from cryptocurrency information

All Headlines 10:33 January 23, 2018

SEOUL, Jan. 23 (Yonhap) -- Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon instructed the Cabinet on Tuesday to come up with stronger codes of conduct for public servants after a financial watchdog official was found to have profited from information on cryptocurrency regulations.

According to a government inspection, the Financial Supervisory Service worker earned about 7 million won (US$6,550) in profit from selling about half of his virtual currency holdings last month, just two days before the government announced a package of measures aimed at curbing cryptocurrency speculation.

The profit represented more than 50 percent of his investment, and the finding sparked outrage among investors and others that the official, who is supposed to act as a watchdog, took advantage of unannounced information affecting the market.

"People have expressed anger following revelations that an employee of the main department handling measures on virtual currency earned profits from virtual currency trading," Lee said during a Cabinet meeting. "The reason people are upset and a relevant agency is investigating is because public servants have a special (moral) responsibility."

Lee instructed government agencies to take steps to beef up their codes of conduct and told the Ministry of Personnel and Management as well as the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission to put together new principles and criteria in new codes of conduct.

The government has been struggling to bring cryptocurrency speculation under control with a series of measures, including a regulation requiring real-name transactions in virtual currency trading, but the overheated market has shown few signs of cooling down.

Earlier this month, the government even suggested that it's considering shutting down all virtual currency exchanges in the country but took the idea back after it sent cryptocurrency prices plummeting and sparked angry reactions from investors.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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