A member of the South Korean parliament is leaving his party amid mounting allegations of massive crypto investments inconsistent with his frugal public image. The controversy, which has caught the attention of the Korean society, involves accusations of conflict of interest and other irregularities.
Lawmaker Leaves South Korean Opposition Party Over Crypto Holdings
Kim Nam-kuk, a representative in the South Korean National Assembly, announced he will leave his political faction amid a growing scandal surrounding his alleged cryptocurrency dealings. In a Facebook post on Sunday, he wrote:
Today, I am briefly leaving the Democratic Party that I love. I decided that it would not be right to be a burden to the party and party members any longer.
Kim came under intense scrutiny after revelations that he owned around 800,000 Wemix coins in 2021, Yonhap reported. At the time, the digital assets were worth around 6 billion won ($4.5 million), “a significant amount inconsistent with his frugal image,” the news agency noted.
On Wednesday, the Democratic Party of Korea, the main opposition force in the parliament, urged Kim to sell off the assets, a call that the first-term lawmaker accepted. The party’s ethics committee launched a probe into his coin trading which has been suspended now.
Korean Legislator Suspected of Conflict of Interest and Insider Crypto Trading
The South Korean politician reportedly withdrew all his coins last March, ahead of the enforcement of the so-called ‘Travel Rule’ in the country. It obliges crypto exchanges to report personal information about crypto owners when a transferred amount exceeds a 1 million won.
Critics have pointed out that Kim Nam-kuk’s crypto holdings may constitute conflict of interest as he was one of the sponsors of a bill proposing to delay income taxation of virtual assets in July 2021. This was approximately six months before he withdrew his coins, Yonhap revealed in an earlier report this week.
While Kim has maintained that no irregularities were involved in his trading and has disclosed some of his transaction data, Korean media has also highlighted suspicions over the source of the money for his crypto investments and that he allegedly used insider information.
“I believe I should not cause any kind of harm to the party at this important time,” he also stated on Sunday while vowing to “stand up to the unjust political offensive until the end and uncover the truth.” Kim further noted that as an independent lawmaker he would demand legal accountability over media reports which he claims are based on false facts.