Choi Heung-sik, the head of the Financial Supervisory Service of South Korea, responded in the affirmative when asked if employees of the financial regulator had sold their cryptocurrency holdings just before the agency publicly proposed measures against the industry, which caused cryptocurrency prices to drop.
When asked if there were such employees inside the agency, Heung-sik responded: “Yes.”
The matter is now being investigated, according to Yonhap news.
Hong Nam-ki, the Director of the Office of Coordination, said (translated from Korean): “The relationship between the inside and the outside of the company [is being] investigated by one or two civil servants as I know, and I would like to ask government officials to refrain from investing…There is a bar. ”
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At a meeting on the 28th of December, Heung-sik told journalists that he ‘bet’ that the Bitcoin bubble was on its way to bursting. This comment was made just before the country banned anonymous transactions. Since then, comments were made from within the government (from justice minister Park Sang-ki, to name names) indicating that the country is going to ban cryptocurrency trading entirely, which led to an outcry – according to the Korea Herald, protests were held and posters put up calling the Moon Jae-in government tyrants “for attempting to unilaterally shut down a booming market worth 300 trillion won (US$282 billion).”
A petition was launched which has until now reached 210,000 signatures. “Please don’t take away our happiness and dreams that we could have for the first time living in South Korea,” it reads, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon stepped in to calm the situation down, saying on Wednesday that new legislation would need to be passed in order to make such a drastic move, meaning that the national assembly would need to convene and discuss the matter.
Heung-sik today apologised for his comments: “I used a phrase that was not refined to talk about the possibility of bubbles disappearing because there was a premium for Bitcoin price only in Korea. There is a bubble in the situation where the intrinsic value of the virtual currency transaction is not confirmed. We will refine it in the future.”