Lawmaker Offers New Hope for ICOs in South Korea

Lawmaker Offers New Hope for ICOs in South Korea
(South Korean National Assembly building. Source: iStock/AaronChoi)

Another glimmer of hope has appeared for South Korea’s crypto-community, with politicians set to debate a law that could open the door for conditional initial coin offerings (ICOs).

South Korea imposed a blanket ban on all forms of ICO in 2017, and earlier this year decided to uphold its decision, following a lengthy deliberation period.

However, a number of senior parliamentarians on both sides of the political divide have since launched campaigns to end the ban, with many decrying an ongoing ”exodus” of South Korean companies to nearby countries that allow ICOs, including Singapore.

The most recent proposal comes from Lee Eon-joo, an MP for the right-wing opposition Bareunmirae Party, who has tabled a motion for the National Assembly to amend the Electronic Financial Transaction Act (2008). Lee Eon-joo’s proposal includes provisions for regulated ICOs, as well as a series of strict punishments for crypto-fraudsters.

Media outlet Dailian reports that Lee Eon-joo’s proposal calls for the following:

-Legal/financial recognition of cryptocurrencies and crypto exchanges-ICOs to be legalized-Would-be ICO issuers with more than 50 investors must obtain regulatory permission from the Financial Services Commission-Would-be ICO issuers must keep updated records of their terms & conditions and financial records on their websites’ homepages-Financial regulators may conduct spot-checks and on-site audits on exchanges and ICO issuers-Offenders found guilty of market manipulation and other cryptocurrency-related financial crimes may be subject to heavy fines.-In the case of fraudulent cryptocurrency-related activity leading to damages worth over USD 423,600, offenders may face imprisonment terms of anything between three years to life.

A rival bill has also been tabled by Lee Sang-min, of the ruling Democratic Party. Lee Sang -min is the chairman of his party’s Committee on Science and Technology, and an influential pro-blockchain activist.

The South Korean parliament will likely debate both bills in the coming weeks, although parties are unlikely to comment publically on whether or not they will support either bill.

Last month, yet another potential lifeline materialized when the port city of Busan was chosen as the government’s preferred bidder for a blockchain free economic zone project. Busan’s proposals include allowing regulated ICOs. Seoul will make its decision on the project public in July.

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