Opposition lawmakers have launched a stinging attack on the South Korean government, accusing it of hypocrisy after it emerged that publicly owned companies and government departments have invested a combined USD 44.5m in crypto-related projects in the past four years.
The data was compiled by the office of an opposition party MP, Yoon Chang-hyun of the People’s Power Party, and reported by Yonhap, examining investments made from January 2017 to March of this year. Although some of the funds were invested indirectly – for instance by contributing to incubator funds that represent a range of companies, with crypto-related startups among their number – the most active investor was the Ministry of SMEs and Startups.
The ministry contributed around USD 30.5m to crypto enterprises, per Yoon’s data, with the National Pension Service stumping up well over USD 3m, and the postal service, Korea Post, which is run by the Ministry of Science and ICT, providing a further funding boost of just under USD 0.5m.
The remainder was stumped up by two government-owned banks: the Industrial Bank of Korea and the Korea Development Bank.
Among the funding injections, Yoon’s data showed, were “direct investments” in the domestic crypto exchange giants Bithumb and Upbit.
The ministry was quoted as stating that it had abided by “the relevant laws” with all of its investments and contributions over the time period in question. And it added that its contributions to “parent funds” left the distribution to individual companies out of its hands – instead putting financial contributions in the hands of business accelerator operators.
But there are signs that the People’s Power Party smells blood in the water – and will refuse to let the government ride out a swell of angry sentiment from younger, crypto-keen South Koreans who have been incensed by the ruling Democratic Party’s insistence that it wants to “crack down” on the crypto industry, with tax measures to come from next year and further regulations promised.
The opposition party has already formed a crypto task force – and it appears it will continue to attack the government on what is becoming an increasingly hot political potato.
The government has labeled the crypto markets as “overheated” and “speculative” in nature.
But Yoon attacked the government, stating that it was guilty of “repeated contradiction,” by investing in crypto businesses while at the same time maintaining that crypto “is a form of ‘gambling.’”