The new law is a response to a recent scandal involving a politician allegedly violating campaign finance laws using cryptocurrency.
The “Kim Nam-guk Prevention Law”
According to a report from local news agency News1, the relevant amendments to the National Assembly Act and Public Service Ethics Act passed unanimously on May 22 among all lawmakers present for each, with 269 votes and 268 votes respectively.
The National Assembly Act amendment puts cryptocurrency on the list of lawmakers’ registered properties and “private interests.” Meanwhile, the amendment to the Public Officials Ethics Act passed the Public Administration and Security Committee on the same day, making both high-ranking officials and National Assembly members need to register their holdings.
The bill was originally scheduled for implementation in December but was fast-tracked to this month after the conservative People Power Party’s newly elected leader, Rep. Yun Jae-ok, said the previous date was “too late.”
“Given the current high level of public interest, especially regarding lawmakers, it’s not appropriate to enforce the law six months later after the promulgation,” said the party leader last week, while proposing a fast-tracked version of the bill last week.
The “public interest” refers to a high-profile scandal surrounding Kim Nam-guk – who was alleged to have cashed out $4.5 million in cryptocurrency at Wemix exchange early last year. The same lawmaker backed legislation in 2022 to defer a law implementing a 20% capital gains tax on cryptocurrencies from 2023 to 2025, though he’s denied there being any conflicts of interest.
Nevertheless, the revelations invited investigations into the former Democratic Party lawmaker for suspected campaign finance violations, tax portals, and criminal possession of crypto.
Which Politicians Hold Crypto in America?
Lawmakers in the United States are already required to disclose their crypto and Bitcoin holdings, among whom only a small number hold any digital assets. Senator Cynthia Lummis revealed in 2021 that she owns 5 BTC – three of which she bought for just $300.
Senator Ted Cruz has also confessed to owning a little more than 2 BTC, respecting the asset as a long-term inflation hedge and decentralized governance. Last month, he said that he has a standing order to buy more Bitcoin every Monday morning.
“I like bitcoin for the same reason that the Chinese communist government doesn’t like bitcoin,” he said. “They don’t like bitcoin, and they banned it because they can’t control it.”
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