The Financial Supervisory Service said Monday that it will launch a special probe into Shinhan Bank following claims by opposition lawmakers that the bank looked into their accounts without their consent.
Shinhan would inevitably face sanctions by the financial regulator should it find evidence that the bank probed lawmakers’ backgrounds via their accounts.
This marks the third investigation against Shinhan by the FSS. The bank would likely suffer tougher penalties this time such as operational suspension if the allegations turn out to be true.
The financial regulator could impose stricter disciplinary or punitive measures against the financial company that was found to have committed wrongdoings during all three probes in accordance with the so-called “three-strikes rule.”
A lawmaker of the main opposition Democratic Party claimed during the National Assembly’s inspection on government agencies that Shinhan Bank “illegally checked” background information of some 1,000 of its key politicians via their accounts without their authorization between April and September 2010.
A FSS official said that the purpose of its planned investigation is to determine whether Shinhan Bank conducted such illicit acts.
The regulator added that it plans to launch the probe within this week, and would enforce its three-strikes rule in the event of any wrongdoing.
In 2010, the FSS investigated Shinhan Financial Group, its banking unit and its chairman Ra Eung-chan amid allegations by civic groups that the Shinhan chief used customers’ money to help finance former President Lee Myung-bak’s aides.
The FSS then also looked to see whether the former Shinhan chairman owned accounts at its banking unit under borrowed names for slush funds.
Last year, Shinhan Bank was also investigated for involvement in Dong Ah Construction’s embezzlement scandal.
The bank had been “warned” for its wrongdoing on both accounts.
Shinhan Bank had said that it committed no illegality.
By Park Hyong-ki