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MAR 19, 2024

Korean tax agency’s move hints at approving corporate crypto accounts

by CoinNess Global

The South Korean National Tax Service (NTS) is reportedly in the process of setting up virtual asset accounts for its district offices. This initiative is aimed at confiscating and liquidating the digital assets of individuals who fail to pay their taxes. This move comes after the creation of similar accounts by public prosecutors’ offices, leading to speculation in the crypto industry that virtual asset accounts will soon be allowed for corporate entities as well.

Direct confiscation of virtual assets

report by the local news outlet Etoday yesterday revealed that each district office of the NTS is working towards establishing a virtual asset account. This development will empower the tax agency to directly sell virtual assets confiscated from tax delinquents. Previously, the NTS would freeze the accounts of overdue taxpayers at Korean cryptocurrency exchanges, compelling them to convert their assets into Korean won. These funds were then confiscated by the NTS. The new initiative is set to streamline the process, enabling the tax authority to directly confiscate virtual assets without the intermediary step of conversion to Korean won.
Speaking about this development, an NTS officer said that as each district office director holds the authority to collect taxes from taxpayers with overdue payments, it’s necessary for each office to have its own account.

Prosecutors’ Offices’ Upbit and Bithumb accounts

The crypto industry views this development as a potential step towards allowing the creation of virtual asset accounts for corporate entities, starting with government agencies. In December, the prosecutors’ offices established their entity accounts at major cryptocurrency exchanges Upbit and Bithumb. Since then, the prosecution has utilized these accounts to sell confiscated virtual assets, aiming to recover funds that had not been collected.
An official from a cryptocurrency exchange indicated that the South Korean government is currently focusing on allowing entities that serve the public good to own virtual asset accounts. This approach is seen as the starting point, with expectations that the trend will gain momentum in the future. The official added that it’s rare for the government to provide blanket permissions from the outset, suggesting a gradual and cautious approach to the integration of virtual asset accounts.

Money laundering concerns

Meanwhile, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), along with other financial regulators, has remained silent on the matter of virtual asset accounts for corporate entities. This reticence stems from concerns with the financial authority that the introduction of corporate crypto accounts could potentially lead to money laundering and the creation of slush funds. An official from the National Assembly’s National Policy Committee said that they have not received any comments from the financial authority in response to inquiries about plans to allow such accounts for corporate entities.
The current law doesn’t prohibit corporate entities from trading virtual assets. However, under the auspices of the financial authority, banks have refrained from offering real-name accounts to corporate entities. This policy has been a point of contention within the crypto industry. Advocates argue that allowing corporate accounts could mitigate issues of market manipulation and challenge the dominance of Upbit in the Korean cryptocurrency market.
The official from the cryptocurrency exchange pointed out that the financial authority does not have a clear legal basis for prohibiting the creation of corporate crypto accounts. They suggested that the regulator should develop clearer guidelines and enforce these rules for corporate entities.

More serious discussions in April

More serious discussions about the introduction of corporate crypto accounts are anticipated to take place in April, following the conclusion of the general election. Last month, the main opposition party, the Democratic Party of Korea, made election promises to open the crypto market to institutional investors. Meanwhile, the ruling People Power Party has been quietly deliberating on virtual asset policy. Despite these political movements, earlier reports indicate a disconnect between the political parties’ efforts to relax crypto regulations and the financial regulator’s stance.
Meanwhile, Hwang Seok-jin, a professor at Dongguk University’s Graduate School of International Affairs and Information Security, expects to see a conclusion on the permission of corporate crypto trading by the end of this year. He said that there has been ongoing discussion about the approval of spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and that allowing the trading of such funds requires the ownership of virtual assets by institutions.
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