[EDITORIALS]Hermes probe is appropriateThe Financial Supervisory Service said yesterday that it had sent auditors to London to investigate allegations that U.K.-based Hermes Investment Management Ltd. manipulated the share price of Samsung Corp. last year. Considering the troubles foreign funds have caused in the Korean stock markets, the investigation was properly conducted, and the regulator did what it had to do.
In December, Hermes made a great deal of money by selling its entire stake in Samsung only two days after telling a local newspaper that the company could face a hostile merger and acquisition by foreign capital. Had a Korean fund or brokerage done the same thing, the Financial Supervisory Service would have promptly begun an investigation and, by now, would have taken appropriate action.
Though it is a bit late, the Financial Supervisory Service should thoroughly investigate the allegations. If indeed this turns out to have been stock price manipulation, then the financial agency should impartially impose sanctions and take appropriate action to compensate for any fraudulent gains.
Since the financial crisis of 1997-98, the Korean financial and stock markets have fully opened. Under the circumstances, it is not right to discriminate against foreign funds or to block their entry into the markets. But the government should not give preferential treatment to foreign funds, nor should it tolerate their violations of Korean laws and regulations. Given this, it seems rather late for Yoon Jeung-hyun, the governor of the financial watchdog, to say as he did yesterday that investigators were sent overseas “to convey a strong message that the Korean market must not be disregarded.”
We do not deny that the foreign funds that have entered Korea since the financial crisis have benefited Korea’s markets to some degree. But we are also aware that they have somewhat disturbed the markets with their haughty behavior and their impudent threats to Korean managerial control.
Internationalization can be effective if foreign funds follow local laws. Some foreign newspapers and foreign funds have criticized the Financial Supervisory Service’s investigations and regulations, calling them nationalistic. But the investigation is legitimate even by international standards. Real internationalization means not discriminating against domestic funds or foreign funds in the application of laws and regulations.