A cryptocurrency selloff is underway amid a crackdown on South Korean exchanges

Photo by Mike Weaver / ABC via Getty Images

Bitcoin and other major cryptocurrencies are crashing as South Korean authorities step up the pressure on cryptocurrency exchanges.

Large South Korean exchanges Coinone and Bithumb were raided by police and tax agencies this week for alleged tax evasion, according to a Reuters report.

“We were asked by the tax officials to disclose paperwork and things yesterday,” an official from Bithumb told Reuters.

In addition to the raids, South Korea’s justice minister Park Sang-ki said at a press conference that the government was preparing a bill to ban cryptocurrency exchanges.

Bitcoin prices on the US-based GDAX exchange fell below $US13,000 in afternoon trade, from almost $US15,000 at 11am this morning.

Here’s the five-minute prices action via Investing.com:

South Korean exchanges are some of the busiest in the world due to the local popularity of cryptocurrencies.

In recent months, the price of bitcoin on South Korean exchanges easily exceeded the price on other large exchanges.

The news out of South Korea appears to have rattled crypto markets more generally.

This table below from coinmarketcap.com shows a sea of red in afternoon trade among the world’s top 10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalisation:

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