South Korean officials confiscated more than 53 billion won (US$47 million) of cryptocurrency from 12,000 people accused of tax evasion.
The government of Gyeonggi Province said that the seizures were part of a months-long investigation on Wednesday.
Officials call this the most prominent “cryptocurrency seized for tax owing” in South Korea’s history.
According to the Gyeonggi Provincial Government, local exchanges that do not collect the resident registration numbers of account holders conceal assets.
To track their account details on cryptocurrency exchanges, investigators compared the registered mobile phone numbers of those accused of tax evasion.
Among them is a “famous home shopping channel host”. The host of the program owes more than $17,000 in taxes and holds $440,000 in cryptocurrency.
The seizure is part of South Korea’s broader crackdown on the country’s crypto industry to combat fraud and money laundering.
Bitcoin price movement was like a roller coaster this year. It has surged above $60,000 and then dropped below $30,000 this month.
The seizure was carried out following a broader investigation of approximately 140,000 tax owed taxes. It marks the latest in a series of measures taken by South Korean financial regulators to strengthen the supervision of the crypto market.
Crypto exchanges must register as virtual asset service providers with financial regulators before September. In addition, they need to determine the legitimacy of their operations. However, many of the 60 cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea struggle to meet regulatory conditions to operate after September.
The Financial Services Commission, the regulator, has set deadlines for the Korea Exchange to cooperate with local banks and open real-name accounts for customers.
Though, for fear of money laundering and other financial crimes, local banks refused to cooperate with dozens of smaller exchanges. The government of South Korea also intends to impose income taxes on crypto transactions.