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South Korean Police Have Seized $1.3m in Crypto in 2022, Critics Say It’s Not Enough

Source: Thierry Chabot/Unsplash

South Korean police have seized $1.3 million worth of crypto in criminal investigations so far this year, official numbers have revealed.

According to Segye Ilbo, the figure is just a small fraction (1.4%) of the total $92 million worth of assets seized by officers in criminal investigations.

The data was compiled by the National Police Agency and made public by Choi Ki-sang, a Democratic Party lawmaker. It includes figures from the “first half” of 2022, with a total for the year unlikely to be made public until the middle of 2023.

The statistics also showed that officers had asked courts to let them confiscate cryptoassets in 13 separate cases this year. In 2021, officers made 36 such requests – and only made eight requests in the whole of 2020.

$1.3 m Seized: Officers ‘Can’t Keep up with Criminals’

Critics claim that the modest figure of $1.3 million shows that the police simply lack the knowledge and IT capabilities required to fight Web3-era crime. They claim that officers are unable to keep up with criminals – with some stating that crypto-powered money laundering is actually rising sharply in South Korea.

The police force last year announced the launch of a network of specialized crypto teams, while the government is set to respond by launching a new crypto regulator. And, more recently, the nation’s prosecution service announced that it is ready to spend big on sophisticated crypto monitoring tools.

But despite claims that officers are getting better at stopping crypto-related crime, experts beg to differ.

Lee Woong-hyuk, a Professor of Policing at the elite Konkuk University, was quoted as stating:

“Money-laundering technology related to cryptoassets becomes more complex and more intelligent as the years go by, but investigative agencies [...] cannot keep pace. There may be a need for government-level [intervention] to increase the amount of [illicit crypto seized in criminal investigations] and support investigations in cases related to cryptoassets.”