A top lawmaker in South Korea has disclosed that the government indirectly invested 50 billion won ($44.4 million) in crypto-related businesses in the last four years.
Rep. Yun Chang-hyun of the People Power Party said five public organizations, including the Ministry of SMEs, invested a total of 50.21 billion won ($44.6 million) in two separate funds that own stakes in popular cryptocurrency exchanges Bithumb and UpBit.
The other four public organizations that invested in crypto-related funds include Korea Development Bank (KDB), the National Pension Service, Korea Post, and Industrial Bank of Korea.
Ministry of SMEs Owns a Large Stake in Cryptos
Out of the public organizations that indirectly invest in cryptocurrencies, the Ministry of SMEs has the highest volume of capital in the funds, the report noted.
Data provided by Chang-hyun as reported today by The Korean Herald, shows that the ministry invested 34.3 billion won ($30.5 million) from 2017 to date.
As per the report, the ministry initially invested 19.3 billion won ($17,2 million) in 2017, before reducing it to 2.8 billion won ($2.5 million) as at when the price of cryptocurrencies plummeted, prompting former Minister of Justice Park Sang-ki to propose shutting down exchanges in the country.
Chang-hyun’s revelation comes as South Korean authorities continue to criticize cryptocurrencies.
Eun Seong-soo, chairman of the Financial Services Commission, and Lee Joo-yeol, the Bank of Korea governor, slammed cryptocurrencies this year, saying they are highly speculative and have no intrinsic value.
Seong-soo added that the government should not be bothered about protecting investors from the “speculative” asset.
Reacting to both officials’ comments, Chang-hyun said the government’s approach toward cryptocurrencies is contradicting. He noted that the country cannot go against crypto, and at the same time invest public funds in the asset class.
“If investing in digital coins is a gamble, how can public institutions explain their investment in crypto exchanges?” Chang-hyun asked.
Meanwhile, the South Korean government is still poised on imposing a whooping 22% tax on crypto transactions, a move that has received major scrutiny following its proposal. The country noted that the move could be implemented in the first quarter of next year.
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