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[Newsmaker] FSC chief nominee to face tough hearing

Yim Jong-ryong, the nominee for chairman of South Korea’s top financial regulator, is expected to face stiff criticism during his parliamentary confirmation hearing, as the Assembly is divided over his suitability.

The opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy likened Yim to previous heads of the Financial Services Commission, calling the former vice finance minister a member of the “mofia” ― a portmanteau of the Ministry of Finance’s initials and the word “mafia.”

The party questioned whether Yim could regulate the financial market fairly and properly, saying the presidential office was granting favors to mofia members.

Civic groups have suggested that Yim, as a former NongHyup Financial Group chairman who oversaw crises such as a breach of customer information, is unfit to implement policies aimed at protecting consumers. They question whether he will side with the financial industry on such issues. 
Yim Jong-ryong
Yim Jong-ryong

Regulators found Yim to be not responsible for the data breach.

The ruling Saenuri Party, meanwhile, said the economic bureaucrat was the right man for the position, claiming his expertise would contribute to the Park Geun-hye administration’s policymaking.

Some argue that his 20 months of experience in the private sector will have a positive effect on the financial markets. Yim has also been praised for pursuing the acquisition of Woori Investment & Securities while in charge of NH Financial Group.

Despite the divided opinions, Yim has shown a strong commitment to the position, meeting with FSC officials, reviewing documents and preparing for the hearing since the announcement of his nomination last week.

As a former senior government official who helped his bosses prepare for confirmation hearings, Yim said he was fully aware of how difficult they could be.

“I will respond (to questions) well,” Yim said.

So far, there have not been any reports of mismanagement or irregularities in his or his family’s personal finances, including the acquisition of two apartments. Also, his educational background appears solid, including his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics.

In an interview with a daily newspaper, the nominee said that being FSC chief was not simply about easing financial regulations for the industry.

He said he would reevaluate and fundamentally improve the current regulatory framework to spur creativity and competition in the industry.

“I will reexamine the current regulations for financial institutions to boost their independence and competition,” Yim said.

By Park Hyong-ki (