South Korea to ban cryptocurrency traders from using anonymous bank accounts

UNTV News   •   January 23, 2018   •   2785

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past an electric board showing exchange rates of various cryptocurrencies at Bithumb cryptocurrencies exchange in Seoul, South Korea, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea will ban the use of anonymous bank accounts in cryptocurrency trading from Jan. 30, regulators said on Tuesday in a widely telegraphed move designed to stop virtual coins from being used for money laundering and other crimes.

The measure comes on top of stepped up efforts by Seoul to temper South Koreans’ obsession with cryptocurrencies. Everyone from housewives to college students and office workers have rushed to trade the market despite warnings from global policymakers about investing in an asset that lacks broad regulatory oversight.

The bitcoin price in South Korea extended loss following the latest regulatory announcement, down 3.34 percent at $12,699 as of 0409 GMT, according to Bithumb, the country’s second-largest virtual currency exchange.

Bitcoin BTC=BTSP slumped nearly 20 percent last week to a four-week low on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange, pressured by worries over a possible ban on trading the virtual asset in South Korean exchanges. In Tuesday afternoon trade, it was up 5.4 percent at $10,925.

Policy makers around the world are calling for tougher, coordinated regulation of cryptocurrency trading. South Korea’s chief financial regulator last week said the government may consider shutting down domestic virtual currency exchanges.

South Korea’s Presidential office has clarified that an outright ban on trading on the virtual currency exchanges is only one of the steps being considered, and not a measure that has been finalized.

“The government is still discussing whether an outright ban is needed or not, internally,” a government official who declined to be named said after Tuesday’s briefing.

Over the past month, government statements have underscored differences between the Justice Ministry, which has pushed for a more hardline approach, and regulators who have shown a reluctance to enforce an outright ban.

Starting Jan. 30, cryptocurrency traders in South Korea will not be allowed to make deposits into their virtual currency exchange wallets unless the names on their bank accounts matches the account name in cryptocurrency exchanges, Kim Yong-beom, vice chairman of the Financial Services Commission told a news conference in Seoul.

“Everyone knew this was coming, as the government already said they will enforce the real-name system before. Rather, I can see this as a chance to go in, not out. I don’t see any reason to take my money out,” said a local bitcoin investor who only agreed to be identified by his family name Ahn.

The regulator has previously said it will come up with detailed guidelines for local banks to properly identify its clients by their real names in cryptocurrency transactions.

To make deposits into virtual coin wallets, cryptocurrency traders will need to identify themselves with their real names at the exchange and have those matched with information at local banks by Jan. 30.

Reporting by Cynthia Kim; Additional reporting by Dahee Kim; Editing by Sam Holmes & Shri Navaratnam

Three Filipino tourists jailed in Hong Kong

Marje Pelayo   •   July 3, 2019

Courtesy : Photoville International

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed giving assistance to three Filipino tourists who were sentenced to five-month imprisonment in Hong Kong for using forged documents.

According the DFA, the three call center employees were involved in a supposed “free Hong Kong tour” which turned out to be a scam.

They opened bank accounts, specifically with Bank of China and Standard Chartered Bank, using falsified documents.

Despite successfully opening an account, authorities suspected that the accounts were to be used for money laundering activities and so arrested the three when they returned to the bank.

“Consul General Antonio Morales reported that the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong has been providing in-kind support and legal advice to the three Filipinos, including jail visits to ascertain their condition,” the DFA said.

Sentenced on February 18, the three Filipinos pleaded guilty to two counts of “using a false instrument” before the Hong Kong Magistrates’ Courts.

For this, Morales said the three are expected to be released in March after serving a reduced sentence for admitting the offense.

DOJ files money laundering charges against 5 RCBC officials

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 23, 2019

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed money laundering charges against five executives of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC).

The five executives involved are former RCBC treasurer Raul Victor Tan, national sales director Ismael Reyes, regional sales director Brigitte Capiña, customer service head for Jupiter business center Romualdo Agarrado, and senior customer relationship officer for Jupiter business center Angela Ruth Torres.

This was after state prosecutors denied their appeal against a decision that found sufficient evidence to charge them of money laundering.

The said charges are linked to their alleged involvement on the $81-million Bangladesh Bank heist last February 2016.

READ: Ex-RCBC manager found guilty for money laundering

According to Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete on Wednesday (May 22) the case was filed with the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 141.

Based on the 10-page resolution, the involved individuals’ complacent attitude in handling the suspicious remittances is unacceptable.

“As defined, ‘willful blindness’ is the deliberate avoidance or knowledge of a crime, especially by failing to make a reasonable inquiry about suspected wrongdoing, despite being aware that it is highly probable. There is no better way to describe the acts of respondents Tan, Capiña, Reyes, Agarrado, and Torres than this,” the resolution reads.

Three Filipinos indicted in US for jewelry fraud

Robie de Guzman   •   March 8, 2019

Silver Jewelry Designed by Artists

Posted by Scottsdale Jewels on Saturday, 4 August 2018

One of the jewelry stores that were accused of selling fake Indian products in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Three Filipinos were among the seven people indicted before a federal grand jury in Phoenix, Arizona in the United States for fraudulently selling jewelries imported from the Philippines and passing it off as made by Native-Americans.

In a statement issued on Friday (March 8), the United States Department of Justice (US DoJ) said the conspirators had been operating the fraudulent scheme for several years, which is in violation of federal laws, including the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA).

The indicted Filipinos, identified as Mency Remedio, a factory Manager, and Ollando Abellanosa and Ariel Adlawan Canedo, who worked as jewelry smiths in the Philippines, are all facing multi-year fraud and money laundering charges.

Also named as defendants were American Nationals Richard Dennis Nisbet, his daughter Laura Marye Lott; Christian Coxon and Waleed Sarrar, who conspired with others to pass off imitation jewelry manufactured abroad as authentic Native American-made jewelry.

In its report, the Department said Lott allegedly delivered the jewelry to retail stores in Arizona, Texas, and other states and collected payments. 

Coxon was the owner and operator of Turquoise River Trading Company, a jewelry store in San Antonio, Texas that claimed to specialize in Indian-made jewelry; while Sarrar owned and operated Scottsdale Jewels LLC, a jewelry store in Scottsdale, Arizona that advertised as selling authentic Indian-made jewelry.

“The defendants and their conspirators used various jewelry businesses—including Last Chance Jewelers and LMN Jewelers—to design and manufacture jewelry in the Native-American style at factories in the Philippines where Filipino jewelry-makers made all of the jewelry,” it added.

The conspirators allegedly took several measures to ensure that the jewelry resembled authentic Native American-made jewelry, including copying jewelry designs from genuine Native American artists, using traditional Native American motifs and symbols in the jewelry, and stamping the jewelry with the initials of alleged Native American artists, the Justice Department said.

Manufactured jewelry was then imported into the US through FedEx, or smuggled into the mainland by hand or through the Philippines Postal System, to end destinations in Arizona, it said.

The indictment alleges that none of these jewelry items were indelibly marked with the country of origin as required by customs law. 

IACA prohibits the offer or display for sale, or the sale of any good in a manner that falsely suggests that it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian and Indian tribe. 

The law provides critical economic benefits for Native American cultural development by recognizing that forgery and fraudulent arts and crafts diminish the livelihood of Native American artists and craftspeople by lowering both market prices and standards.

The US DoJ clarified that an indictment is merely an allegation.  All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. – Robie de Guzman

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