Prosecutors begin probe into nepotism at banks

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Prosecutors begin probe into nepotism at banks

Prosecutors launched an investigation into nepotism at five banks on Monday after the country’s financial watchdog revealed multiple cases where the children of bank executives and candidates from certain universities were hired despite scoring lower on screening tests.

In one especially egregious case, a human resources executive allegedly interviewed his or her child. The gender of the executive was not revealed.

The banks include KB Kookmin Bank, KEB Hana Bank, Busan Bank, DGB Bank and Kwangju Bank. Last month, the Financial Supervisory Service unearthed 22 cases of nepotism at the five financial institutions and referred the case to prosecutors earlier this month.

The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office said it has assigned district offices to look into the five banks under their jurisdiction.

Of the 22 cases, nine concerned special consideration for children of directors and executives. The rest involved distant relatives or favored universities.

In 2016, for instance, KEB Hana allegedly tampered with interview scores in order to hire graduates from three of the country’s most prestigious universities: Seoul National University, Yonsei University and Korea University.

KEB Hana Bank denied the allegation, saying that it was “a recruitment policy that a company can pursue,” not an illegal act.

KB Kookmin Bank is accused of offering preferential treatment to the great-granddaughter of its holding group chairman, Yoon Jong-kyoo.

The candidate in question scored at the bottom of the initial resume screening and preliminary interview, but received the highest score during an interview with executives.

Choe Heung-sik, head of the Financial Supervisory Service, said Monday that its findings were well-grounded.

“The investigation result is not something I can deny,” he said. “It is accurate.”

The government has been cracking down on cases of nepotism at financial institutions.

Last week, prosecutors indicted Lee Kwang-goo, former chief executive of Woori Bank, for alleged nepotism that took place between 2015 and 2017.

Lee resigned in November in the wake of allegations that he was involved in making lists of candidates with ties to bank executives and high-ranking government officials.


BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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