Korean consumers take action against bank for alleged wrongdoings

Korean consumers take action against bank for alleged wrongdoings

SEOUL - A group of borrowers are set to call for financial regulators to conduct a full-fledged investigation into KB Kookmin Bank, criticised for its alleged financial wrongdoings, the Korea Consumer Agency said Friday.

Their protest against the bank comes after the Financial Supervisory Service recently publicised several instances of misconduct by the lender at home and abroad, said the consumer advocacy group.

The alleged wrongdoings included embezzlement, money laundering, unauthorised lending and overcharging loan interest.

According to the KCA, some hundred borrowers plan to ask the FSS to widen the scope of the inquiry into the bank. "Borrowers could be the main victims of KB Kookmin Bank's interest-overcharging or embezzlement," said a spokeswoman.

She said the KCA is also considering filing a complaint against some former and incumbent chief executives of the bank with criminal investigative authorities.

Regulatory officials, however, said the coming consumer-initiated inquiry into KB Kookmin may not be realised as the regulator has already

been looking into the case. "We rule out overlapping probes," said an FSS official.

According to the FSS, an employee of the bank headquarters recently embezzled company funds totalling 9 billion won (S$10.29 million).

Inspectors are conducting an on-the-spot investigation at the bank headquarters in Yeouido, Seoul, in a bid to reveal whether the lender has been negligent in internal control.

A Tokyo branch manager was caught by authorities in September over improper issuance of loans worth 170 billion won during the former Lee Myung-bak administration.

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