A governor-turned-lobbyist

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A governor-turned-lobbyist

Former Financial Supervisory Service Governor Kim Jong-chang reportedly asked Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik to go soft on an investigation into the troubled Busan Savings Bank Group when the latter was serving as head of the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI).

It was reported that Governor Kim requested a private tete-a-tete with the then-BAI chairman to talk about the investigation, but was rejected. During an interview with reporters, the prime minister said he had received pressure from various corners while he was spearheading an investigation into rampant irregularities within the savings bank industry last year. The FSS governor in charge of oversight on the financial industry turned out to have been a lobbyist for the troubled saving banks.

We are dumbfounded to learn that a head of the financial watchdog responsible for uncovering financial institutions’ malpractices pleaded for a cover-up of corruption in the financial sector. It is no wonder that the savings bank industry is so corrupt these days.

After being rejected by the BAI chairman, governor Kim reportedly turned to the secretary-general to protest against the BAI’s inspection into the financial sector, which was under his jurisdiction. If all of this is true, Kim can be considered a professional lobbyist rather than a public official.

Kim is also suspected of holding a 5 percent stake in Busan Savings Bank through a trust fund - the Asia Turst Fund - he created on his own. He claims that he stepped down as an outside director and sold off the shares when he became governor of the Financial Supervisory Service.

But further suspicions arose that Busan Saving Bank made up for the losses of Asia Trust Fund and that Kim actually remained as the largest shareholder of Asia Trust Fund by presenting a proxy. It is no wonder that he, as a main shareholder, had been so protective of the savings bank under fire.

After the Busan Savings Bank scandal blew up, he refused to tell the truth, even as he was grilled in a National Assembly hearing. He remained evasive when many of his staff were summoned by the prosecution in connection with the scandal.

Yet he declined to comment on the corruption case on the grounds that it is still under investigation by prosecutors. If he has any conscience left, he must immediately explain the suspicions surrounding him and seek an apology from the public.

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