Lee dresses down FSS on morals

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Lee dresses down FSS on morals

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President Lee Myung-bak, center, talks to Financial Supervisory Service Governor Kwon Hyouk-se, right, and Financial Services Commission Chairman Kim Seok-dong, left, after storming into FSS headquarters on an unannounced visit yesterday morning. Lee declared war on the FSS’ morals and poor oversight. [YONHAP]


President Lee Myung-bak yesterday declared war on the Financial Supervisory Service’s morals and poor oversight, storming into its headquarters on an unannounced visit yesterday morning.

Lee threatened the severest punishments for a series of regulatory failures and allegations of corruption. About 30 FSS officials attended the meeting, including FSS Governor Kwon Hyouk-se, and received a furious broadside from the president for 20 minutes.

Lee stressed that no public servant would be forgiven for abusing their power, being corrupt and undermining his administration’s championing of a “fair society.”

The FSS is facing a firestorm of public criticism over the massive illegal withdrawals from Busan Savings Bank the day before its operations were suspended, presumably after inside information about the suspension was leaked. Former FSS officials serving as auditors of Busan Savings Bank Group have also been accused of lending the banks’ shareholders money in excess of the legal limit.

“Corruption committed by people who have power and wealth should never be forgiven,” Lee said. “I will also never forgive any public servant who cooperates in such wrongs.

“For financial regulators, public confidence equals life. It is the gravest crisis when the financial watchdog loses the trust,” Lee said.

Pointing out that the financial regulator’s problems are not new, Lee said he will go the extra mile to put them to an end.

“I wonder if your voluntary efforts alone are enough to successfully fix your problems,” Lee said. “A new task force should be established to root out institutional corruption and irregularities to overcome this crisis with a new, resolute determination.”

Following Lee’s visit, the FSS announced sweeping reform measures to increase regulatory transparency. The measures came less than a week after the FSS announced a massive reshuffle within its ranks to root out corruption and collusive relationships with industries under its supervision.

Kim Hee-jung, Lee’s spokeswoman, said the Prime Minister’s Office, relevant ministries and outside experts will form a task force to carry out a fundamental overhaul of the FSS on Lee’s order. She said the task force’s work will be in addition to the FSS’ voluntary reforms, adding that “it does not mean that Lee was dissatisfied with their efforts.”

During his visit, the president said no one at the FSS could dodge responsibility for the recent crisis. “You may think you did nothing wrong, but you have turned a blind eye to wrongdoings committed in the upper chain of command for decades,” Lee said.

Lee also vowed to root out the long-held tradition of former FSS officials receiving jobs as auditors in the financial industry after they retire.

“You have ability and experience in oversight, so when you do your jobs correctly, your talents can be used effectively,” Lee said. “But many of you have wasted that talent and experience to benefit corrupt shareholders.”

The president also said a former FSS official had sent him an e-mail to alert him to evil practices of retired FSS officials in the financial industry.

Lee said FSS officials must not think their wrongdoings will be left unpunished as in the past.

The reform measures announced by the FSS yesterday clearly responded to Lee’s barrage. The FSS vowed to break the custom of former FSS employees monopolizing auditing positions at local private financial firms.

“Through this reform, the Financial Supervisory Service seeks to abandon all privileged statuses it previously held and start anew by operating with a committed stance to law and principles,” the FSS said in a statement.

All major commercial banks except Woori Bank currently have a former FSS official as auditors, while 31 out of 40 securities firms have auditors who came from the FSS or the now-defunct Securities Supervisory Board, which was merged into the FSS.

But with the auditors of four affiliates of the now-suspended Busan Savings Bank Group found to have been involved in illegal lending and irregular accounting - all of them former FSS employees - the financial watchdog has taken heavy flak.

The reform plan also widens the range of FSS employees required to make public their financial situations, which formerly was only required of high-level officials and lawmakers.

Prosecutors are currently investigating a former high-ranking FSS official on allegations of accepting bribes reaching several million won from Bohae Mutual Savings Bank, which was suspended earlier this year. This is in addition to an FSS inspector currently under arrest for accepting 40 million won ($37,200) from Bohae.

The FSS said it also plans to conduct evaluations to judge employees’ “integrity” or corruptibility, require multiple sign-offs, digital records and close supervision by superiors on daily operations as well as offer incentives to whistle-blowers.

While it presented the major points of its reform plan yesterday, the FSS said it will present a more fleshed-out plan in the immediate future.

“Lee has monitored the recent crisis and decided that the time has come for him to take the matter into his own hands,” Kim, presidential spokeswoman, said. “The visit to the FSS was to express his strong will to sternly punish those responsible and to give a message about the desperate need of reform.”

“The president believes that trust is the bedrock of a financial regulator,” Kim said. “He thinks the most urgent priority is restoring the trust of an enraged public.”


By Ser Myo-ja, Lee Jung-yoon [myoja@joongang.co.kr]


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

금감원, 신이 내린 ‘갑 중의 갑’

1500명 평균 연봉 9000만원, 고용 보장, 퇴직 땐 ‘낙하산’…“반민반관 괴물 됐다”

이명박 대통령이 4일 아침 예고 없이 찾아가 질타한 금융감독원은 그냥 ‘신의 직장’이 아니다. 관가에서조차 “신도 부러워하는 직장”이라며 “국세청 위에 공정거래위원회, 공정위 위에 금감원이 있다”는 얘기가 나올 정도다. 그도 그럴 만하다. 관(官)의 권한과 민(民)의 자유, 장점만 있다. 높은 연봉에 고용 보장은 물론 권력도 누린다. 특히 세 가지가 남다르다.

우선 높은 연봉이다.

이 대통령은 이날 “여러분 직원 1500명의 평균 연봉이 9000만원 가까이 될 것”이라고 말했다. 금감원이 홈페이지에 공시한 직원 평균 연봉(2009년 기준)은 8836만원이다. 기본급(4892만원)과 상여금, 각종 수당을 더한 것이다. 근무한 지 15년쯤 지나면 억대 연봉자가 된다는 뜻이다. 중앙부처의 한 국장급 공무원은 “금감원 부국장급인 친구와 연봉을 비교해 보니 절반밖에 안 되더라”고 했다. 행정안전부에 따르면 현재 6급 22호봉 공무원의 보수는 연 5000만원 정도다. 행안부 측은 “6급 22호봉이 되려면 9급으로 들어와 20년 이상 근무해야 한다”고 밝혔다. 금감원의 올 인건비(1417억원)는 예산(2632억원)의 절반이 넘는다.

공무원 시험을 준비하는 청년 구직자들에겐 ‘꿈의 직장’이다. 지난해 11월 30여 명을 새로 뽑는 금감원 공채 땐 1만5000여 명이 몰려 50대 1이 넘는 경쟁률을 보였다. 연세대 함준호(경제학) 교수는 “금감원 연봉은 공기업 중 가장 높은 수준”이라며 “전문성을 인정해 높은 연봉을 주는 만큼 조금이라도 잘못하면 엄격하게 책임을 물어야 한다”고 말했다.

다음은 노후 보장이다. 국장급 직원이 은행이나 증권사 감사로 나가면 4억~5억원의 연봉을 받는다. 금융계 관계자는 “수석검사역이나 팀장급으로 일하다 금융사로 옮겨도 ‘억대 연봉은 기본’”이라고 말했다. 이직도 쉽다. A증권회사 관계자는 “금감원 출신이 늘 감사 영입 1순위”라며 “감독원과의 관계를 생각해 되레 낙하산을 요청하는 경우도 꽤 있다”고 말했다.

마지막으로 막강한 권한과 자유로운 책임이다. 금감원은 외환위기 당시인 1999년 은행·증권·보험감독원과 신용관리기금 등 4대 감독기구를 통합했다. 그러면서 금융회사의 생사를 결정하는 무소불위의 권력을 갖게 됐다. 한국은행조차 금융회사를 검사하려면 금감원에 요청해 동의를 받아야 한다. 김중수 한은 총재는 지난달 “중앙은행이 검사권을 갖지 못한 나라는 한국과 일본 등 전 세계 세 나라뿐”이라고 문제를 제기했다.

그런데도 견제는 받지 않는다. 이 정부도 책임이 있다. 정부는 2009년 초 ‘기관 특성’을 감안한다며 금융감독원을 공공기관 지정에서 해제했다. 이성헌 한나라당 의원은 “공공기관에서 벗어나면 예산·인사 등에 있어 정부의 감독에서 벗어나게 된다”며 “고삐를 죄어야 할 때 되레 고삐를 풀어 준 셈”이라고 말했다. 정부는 당시 “금융위의 감독을 받고 있어 이중 규제가 될 수 있고, 독립적인 감독을 하려면 필요하다”는 논리를 댔다. 금융위원회가 갖고 있던 조직 승인권도 올해부터 사라졌다. 금감원 마음대로 조직을 늘리는 게 가능해진 것이다. 금융위 고위 관계자는 “조직을 늘려 놓고 예산을 달라면 안 줄 방법이 없다”며 “금감원이 반관반민(半官半民)의 괴물이 돼 버렸다”고 말했다. 금감원은 지난해 한나라당 의원들이 추진했던 ‘금융소비자보호원 신설안’도 “금융감독에 혼선만 일으킨다”고 반대해 무산시켰다.

해결책으로 금감원의 힘을 어느 정도 빼야 한다는 의견도 나온다. 통합돼 있는 감독 기능을 기능별로 나누는 식이다. 이헌욱(참여연대 민생희망 본부장) 변호사는 “감독 당국과 업계의 유착이 이번 사태를 일으킨 만큼 별도의 금융소비자 보호기구를 만들어 서로 경쟁하게 해야 한다”고 말했다.

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