Former Hana president appointed to lead FSS

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Former Hana president appointed to lead FSS


Choe Heung-sik

A professor-turned-businessman was appointed as the head of the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) on Wednesday, a decision that breaks the tradition of tapping veteran bureaucrats for the top post.

Choe Heung-sik, head of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and former president of Hana Financial Group, will become the leader of the country’s financial watchdog if President Moon Jae-in accepts the request from the Financial Services Commission (FSC).

This is the first time that a figure from the private sector has been named as FSS head.

The chairman of the FSC recommends the head of the FSS to the president, though the appointment is typically in line with the president’s policy directions. Still, the nominee need not pass a confirmation hearing.

The FSC cited Choe’s balanced experience in academia and the finance industry as the reason for the decision.

“The nominee has great expertise in research and business experience after serving in major positions in the finance field including as the head of the Korea Institute of Finance, a professor at Yonsei University and president of Hana Financial Group,” the FSC said in a statement.

If approved, Choe will replace Zhin Woong-seob who finished on Wednesday after two years and nine months at the regulatory agency.

The labor union of the FSS, however, immediately denounced the appointment.

“The decision is inconsistent with the government’s push to clean up those with vested interests,” the labor union said in a statement.

The labor union raised doubts over his post at Hana Financial Group, a holdings unit of KEB Hana Bank, as the bank is accused of supporting the daughter of Choi Soon-sil, confidante of jailed former President Park Geun-hye, with exceptionally low interest rate loans.

Choe served as the head of the group between 2012 and 2014 and as an adviser from 2014 through 2015.

Still, it remains unclear whether he was at the helm when the dubious favor took place.

Born in 1952, Choe received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Yonsei University with a major in business. He earned a doctorate in Business Administration from Universite de Lille I and Paris University Dauphine in France.

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