An employee at South Korea’s BNK Busan Bank allegedly embezzled 1.48 billion won ($1.1 million) of customer funds to invest in Bitcoin.
Between June 9 and July 25, an employee working in the bank’s foreign exchange team allegedly embezzled the money on several occasions, according to an announcement.
Each time, the employee must have deposited money received from clients abroad into the personal account of their romantic partner. The misappropriated funds were then used to invest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
In addition to taking legal action against the employee, BNK Busan Bank said it would undergo an internal audit, according to the disclosure. This is the latest of over 10 cases of embezzlement by bank employees in South Korea this year.
Earlier this year, a Woori Bank employee was found to have embezzled nearly 70 billion won (US$53.6 million) from 2012.
Subsequently, South Korea’s financial supervision has begun to draw up stricter guidelines for internal control in banks.
South Korean regulators launch a probe
The discovery is likely the result of a recent political choice made by the authorities in South Korea. Last month, financial regulators in South Korea began investigating currency transactions at commercial banks for illegal transactions involving crypto.
According to an unnamed senior Financial Supervisory Service official, authorities have been checking the banks for links to money laundering or currency speculation involving crypto assets. While he neglected to identify any crypto exchanges under review, Shinhan Bank was revealed as one of the lenders under investigation.
Crypto tax delay
Meanwhile, South Korean authorities have recently delayed the implementation of a cryptocurrency tax regime again, with the new plan for a 20% capital gains tax to take effect in 2025. The 20% capital gains tax on cryptocurrencies was expected to take effect from the start of 2023.
The 20% tax will apply to crypto winnings that exceed $1,900 in a one-year period. Many market participants take issue with the rule, feeling that it is too strict to tax gains above $1,900. Smaller investors, for example, will be particularly harmed by this particular threshold.
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