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New law could mandate South Korean officials to disclose their bitcoin holdings


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The South Korean government is taking steps to implement new legislation that mandates officials to disclose their ownership of digital assets including bitcoin. This measure, known as the Kim Nam-kuk Prevention Law, is a direct response to a scandal where certain National Assembly members were found to be involved in significant digital assets transactions.

During a plenary session on May 25, South Korea’s National Assembly unanimously passed a bill that mandates lawmakers and high-ranking public officials to disclose their digital assets holdings. The approval of this new bill was reported by the local news agency News1.

As per the report, the bill necessitated changes to both the National Assembly Act and the Public Service Ethics Act. The amendment to the National Assembly Act garnered unanimous support with 269 votes in favor from the attending 269 lawmakers. Similarly, the amendment to the Public Service Ethics Act received 268 votes from the present 268 lawmakers.

On May 22, the amendment to the National Assembly Act was successfully passed, officially designating bitcoin as a registered asset for lawmakers. Additionally, the amendment to the Public Service Ethics Act imposes the obligation on high-ranking public officials and members of the National Assembly to disclose their holdings of digital assets.

The scandal that lead to the proposal of the new rule revolves around certain National Assembly members engaging in substantial digital assets transactions.

One notable figure involved is Kim Nam-kuk, previously affiliated with the main opposition Democratic Party in South Korea. In early May, it was discovered that Kim had possessed a minimum of $4.5 million worth of Wemix tokens.

The new “Kim Nam-kuk Prevention Law” primarily seeks to include bitcoin and digital assets holdings exceeding $760 into the wealth reporting requirements for senior officials, treating them on par with cash, stocks, bonds, gold, and other assets.

Initially scheduled to take effect in December 2023 after a grace period of six months, certain lawmakers, including Representative Yun Jae-ok from the People Power Party, have advocated for accelerating the implementation of this change by July.

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