Prosecutors investigate head of financial watchdog over sponsored overseas trips

The new head of Korea’s Financial Supervisory
Service has only been in the job a matter of days,… but he’s already coming under
fire for a series of overseas trips made when he was a lawmaker. Prosecutors said Thursday they will investigate
the new head of the F-S-S over the mounting claims, and on Friday they raided the offices
of some of the institutions alleged to be involved. Won Jung-hwan reports. Kim Ki-sik, who took office as the head of
the Financial Supervisory Service earlier this month,… is in the hot seat over his
overseas trips sponsored by financial institutions while he was a lawmaker. Kim is facing growing criticism for the trips
paid for by the Korea Exchange, the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy
and Woori Bank between 2014 and 2015. Prosecutors said they will investigate Kim
over the allegations,… and have filed a confiscation warrant on Friday against the
related financial institutions to gather evidence. Investigators from the Seoul Southern District
Prosecutors’ Office were sent to search the Seoul and Busan headquarters of the Korea
Exchange Bank and Woori Bank and confiscate accounting documents to find out whether Kim
received special treatment from those institutions. Kim defended himself, saying that such trips
were linked to his work as a lawmaker at that time,… and stressed he gave no favors to
the institutions that paid for the trips. But opposition parties on Tuesday raised their
concerns against the new FSS chief. The main opposition Liberty Korea Party pressed
President Moon Jae-in to dismiss Kim from his position as head of the FSS, a role Kim
has held for less than two weeks. The opposition party claim that the act of
having the institutions cover his travel expenses could be constituted as bribery and abuse
of power. The left-wing Justice Party on Thursday also
joined other opposition parties in demanding the resignation of Kim. The Blue House on Monday rejected calls to
fire Kim over the trips,… calling them inappropriate but legitimate. It said it has been verifying the reports
to determine whether Kim’s trips did violate any law,… and has sought to put a shield
around the dispute by deciding that all his overseas trips had been made to serve the
public interest,… and thus were legitimate. President Moon Jae-in said Friday morning
that he will ask for Kim’s resignation if there is an objective ruling that he has violated
the law,… adding that if the overseas trips are judged as a breach of public officials’
ethics rules, he will sack Kim even if the trips were not illegal. Won Jung-hwan, Arirang News.

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