S. Korean watchdog goes after crypto whales to ensure AML compliance


South Korea’s financial watchdog, the Financial Services Commission (FSC), will monitor crypto whales with assets of over 100 million won ($70,000) to prevent money laundering efforts using digital assets.

The FSC noted that having a larger proportion of digital assets and stablecoins equates to a higher money laundering risk. Thus, special focus should be placed on monitoring crypto whales with significant digital-asset and stablecoin holdings under the new Anti-Money Laundering guidelines, reported local media.

The report also noted that stablecoins, especially those commonly used by the public, are more likely to be used as a means of crime. The report reads:

“In the case of an independently listed virtual asset, it is possible that it did not meet the listing criteria of other virtual asset operators, and it can be evaluated that the risk of money laundering of virtual asset operators with a high proportion of the virtual asset is high.”

Apart from monitoring crypto whales and their activities, the report also advocates for keeping an eye on retail customers making high-value deposits. Those customers should be monitored for any significant change in holdings every quarter.

“Customers with large virtual asset holdings are at higher risk of money laundering.”

South Korea is known for its strict implementation of crypto-related policies, especially in the wake of the collapse of the Terra ecosystem. Its financial regulators have doubled down on their efforts to ensure investor protection and bring crypto legislation by early 2024.

Related: Koreans to have access to blockchain-powered digital IDs by 2024

In August, the chair of FSC said the regulator plans to expedite its review of 13 bills related to digital assets pending in the country’s National Assembly. The aim of the review is to make institutional supplements that will take a balanced approach to blockchain development, investor protection and market stability.