Just a makeshift measure?

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Just a makeshift measure?

The Financial Supervisory Service’s plan to pursue a sweeping overhaul to restore its reputation may face internal protest. The FSS has been coming up with various ideas for reform after raising controversy over its indulgence with the financial industry.

The head of the Financial Supervisory Service told an enraged President Lee Myung-bak recently that he will ban retiring senior members from seeking jobs in the financial industry and turn down requests from the industry for auditing positions. Personal wealth reporting, which is currently a requirement for employees higher than second-grade level, will be extended.

But Lee Seok-keun, former assistant to the deputy governor of the FSS, said after resigning from an auditing position at Shinhan Bank that he hopes to serve as a scapegoat for the controversy.

“It will be a waste if the valuable human resources of the FSS are restricted from stretching into the private sector,” Lee said.

Lee had been named an auditor last March. His appointment was under deliberation by the Government Public Ethics Committee amid controversy over top-down appointments.

Lee withdrew from the appointment after the FSS made headline news for shady dealings between former and incumbent FSS officials with the now-suspended Busan Savings Bank Group.

His comment is not entirely wrong. It may be unfair for the FSS to constrain all employees in their job opportunities after they leave public office. It also could be a waste to ban financial experts from entering the industry just because of their bureaucratic record.

Many FSS employees may be secretly cheering on their former boss. Those charged with unethical or irregular behavior make up a small ratio of FSS staff.

However small, though, they dealt a heavy blow to the reputation of one of the most crucial financial watchdogs.

If FSS officials have any care for their workplace, they should be ready to sacrifice their own necks to restore the institution’s credibility, instead of worrying about their after-retirement options.

If Lee’s comments are widely supported by FSS employees, it would mean that the overhaul proposals outlined by FSS Governor Kwon Hyouk-se are just makeshift measures, presented to quiet all the rage from President Lee and the public.
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