The Korea Herald


FSS chief reaffirms support for financial groups' global expansion

By Song Seung-hyun

Published : June 1, 2023 - 16:57

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Lee Bok-hyun, chief of the Financial Supervisory Service, talks during a press conference marking his first year in Seoul, Thursday. (FSS) Lee Bok-hyun, chief of the Financial Supervisory Service, talks during a press conference marking his first year in Seoul, Thursday. (FSS)

Lee Bok-hyun, chief of the Financial Supervisory Service, on Thursday emphasized the importance of the financial authority participating in international investor relations events in enhancing the global presence of Korean financial firms.

“We will continue to support the Korean financial group’s global expansion (over the next year),” Lee said at a press conference held Thursday to mark his first year in office.

As the FSS head, Lee made an exceptional move by participating in IR events of the Korean financial group held in Southeast Asian countries from May 8 to 12.

Lee clarified that the financial industry initiated the request for assistance.

“Financial group chairpersons have informed me that when they have meetings with investors in places like New York and London, they often encounter positive evaluations of Korean firms. However, investors frequently express concerns regarding the regulatory risks associated with Korean companies,” Lee said.

He said that the primary concerns of foreign investors revolve around the frequent modifications made to financial regulations in Korea.

“Despite holding positions as chairpersons of leading financial groups, they encountered challenges in convincing foreign investors that Korea is a secure destination for investment. And they said the investors wish to talk to financial authorities,” Lee said.

During the press conference, he also highlighted that his visit to Indonesia had many achievements as he could meet with officials of Indonesia's Financial Services Authority (OJK).

“During my visit, we had a networking opportunity organized by OJK. At the meeting, financial authorities and Korean financial firm officials could meet up,” he said.

Lee emphasized that this holds particular significance for many Korean firms engaged in business operations in Indonesia.

"Companies such as Mirae Asset and KB have witnessed remarkable business expansion in the country, but they consistently encounter regulatory obstacles," Lee said.

Lee also mentioned that the FSS and the OJK reached an agreement to facilitate the exchange of officials. This move aims to enhance communication and collaboration between the two regulatory bodies.

“I anticipate that an excellent individual will likely join us. He might get promoted to high-ranking positions such as the head of OJK in Indonesia. Although their immediate result from this exchange program may not be noticeable, in the long term, it will help create a favorable counterpart for Korea,” Lee explained.

Nevertheless, Lee's trip to Southeast Asia faced criticism from multiple lawmakers of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, who regarded it as unnecessary -- particularly in light of the prevailing volatility in the Korean stock market due to suspected stock manipulation among high-profile industry players.

On May 11, Ra Deok-yeon, the head of an investment consulting firm, was arrested in connection with such alleged stock manipulation.

In response to the criticism, Lee explained that his business trip had been planned in advance, and that he had already been working on the manipulation case before his departure.

"As a result of our efforts, we were able to apprehend the suspect. Additionally, during my business trip, I remotely monitored the situation," Lee added.