One of South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Bithumb, has announced it is banning digital assets trading in a number of countries, including North Korea, Iran, Iraq and Sri Lanka, along with seven other locations. These countries have been labelled as high risk by the Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories (NCCT) initiative.
The ban, which took effect on May 28, is part of Bithumb’s wider initiative to protect its infrastructure from money laundering and other finance-related criminal activities. Additionally, the exchange will no longer accept new users from the countries listed by the NCCT and is also expected to disable all user’s accounts from the said countries by June 21.
The 11 countries have been singled out by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Money Laundering as being regions with insufficient policies and regulations to combat money laundering as well as the utilization of various monetary forms to finance illicit and illegal operations.
Through this move, Bithumb will be eliminating any potential conflict with the local financial authorities as well as other international regulators with regards to the usage of cryptocurrency in money laundering. The South Korean exchange is also taking additional measures and will be requesting foreign users to go through a mobile verification process to ensure that these cannot deceive the exchange by providing false personal information and/or false addresses.
A spokesperson Bithumb said the ban was a necessary step in light of the current situation regarding cryptocurrency scams and money laundering activities.
“The Bithumb team will voluntarily impose strict policies and cooperate closely with local financial authorities to increase the transparency in the cryptocurrency market and protect investors. With progressive voluntary policies, Bithumb will improve the global standard of cryptocurrency exchanges,” the Bithumb spokesperson said.
Bithumb’s announcement comes several weeks after reports surfaced that privacy-centred cryptocurrencies like Dash, Zcash, and Monero have been used to launder money Japan. According to a Mainichi Shimbun report, members of organized crime syndicate Yakuza have laundered “hundreds of millions of dollars” through the three anonymous cryptocurrencies.
The report led the Japanese government to restrict trading in these three anonymous currencies and even requested the country’s digital exchanges to de-list these currencies.
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