Fri, Jan 12, 2018 - Page 10 News List

S Korea cryptocurrencies warning triggers retreat


Bitcoin slumped as the South Korean Ministry of Justice reiterated a proposed ban on cryptocurrency venues, fueling concern that a government crackdown would erode one of the world’s biggest sources of demand for digital currencies.

The ministry is preparing a bill that would outlaw cryptocurrency trading via exchanges, South Korean Minister of Justice Park Sang-ki told reporters yesterday.

However, South Korea’s presidential office said a ban on the nation’s virtual coin exchanges had not yet been finalized.

“Justice Minister Park’s comments related to shutdown of cryptocurrency exchanges is one of the measures prepared by the Ministry of Justice, but it’s not a measure that has been finalized,” a spokesman told reporters in a text message.

The South Korean government disclosed a similar proposal on Dec. 28 last year, although at the time it also included other options such as allowing trading to continue under tighter regulation.

It is unclear whether the ministry’s proposal would be approved by parliament.

The plan has spurred a backlash on social media, while a petition opposing the measure on the South Korean president’s Web site has attracted more than 54,000 names.

Bitcoin dropped as much as 12 percent to US$12,801, before paring losses to about 6 percent, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.

Governments around the world are increasing scrutiny of cryptocurrencies as surging prices attract everyone from individual investors to Wall Street banks.

South Korea has emerged as something of a ground zero for the speculative frenzy, with the South Korean prime minister warning recently that the boom might corrupt the nation’s youth.

The government last month said that it would be conducting on-site investigations of the nation’s cryptocurrency exchanges.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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