Bitcoin is illegal in Taiwan, declared Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) Chairman Tseng Ming-chung on Monday.
He made his remarks a few days after the rescue of a high-profile Hong Kong businessman, Wong Yuk-kwan, whose kidnappers demanded HK$70 million ($9.1 million) for his release, payable in bitcoin.
The real estate and oil tycoon was rescued five days ago after being held for 38 days. According to Xinhua News, his wife was planning on sending HK$11 million ($1.43 million), but wasn’t familiar enough with the workings of Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is the go-to currency for extortionists looking to avoid apprehension or seizure of their winnings, due to its decentralization from financial authority and perceived anonymity.
On Monday, Tseng Ming-chung was asked at a legislative hearing if cryptocurrency can be used in Taiwan. He replied that it is illegal and that the FSC will work with the country’s central bank and police to crack down on violations. He further indicated that the FSC will be publishing a joint statement with the central bank to inform other countries of its position.
His comments are a step beyond those made last year, when he declared that holders of bitcoin should not expect legal protection for their holdings, and that the FSC would not approve the operation of bitcoin ATMs.