Crypto Crime Could Mean Jail for Life in South Korea

The new consumer protection rules will take effect in July 2024.

AccessTimeIconFeb 7, 2024 at 10:35 a.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 9:09 p.m. UTC

Crypto criminals will face life imprisonment in South Korea when new consumer protection rules take effect this July, the country's financial regulator said Wednesday.

In December, the Financial Services Commission (FSC) proposed a consumer protection framework called the Virtual Asset User Protection Act. The rules take effect on July 19 and cover market manipulation, illegal trading and other violations leading to criminal punishment or fines, depending on the severity.

"In the case of criminal punishment, a fixed-term imprisonment of more than one year or a fine equivalent to three to five times the amount of unjust enrichment is possible," the FSC said.

If proceeds from crime exceed 5 billion won ($3.8 million), the perpetrators can face a life sentence, the notice added.

South Korea has been strengthening its oversight of the digital assets sector, particularly targeting consumer protection. Approved initiatives so far compel companies and public figures to disclose crypto holdings.

Edited by Sheldon Reback.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Sandali Handagama

Sandali Handagama is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for policy and regulations, EMEA. She does not own any crypto.