Optimus fund takes spotlight in Assembly’s financial audit

Oct 13, 2020, 08:20 am

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Financial Services Commission Chairman Eun Sung-soo attends the National Assembly’s financial audit held on Oct. 12, 2020./ Photographed by AsiaToday reporter Lee Byung-hwa (photolbh@)

AsiaToday reporter Jeong Dan-bi

In this year’s parliamentary audit session for the financial regulator Financial Services Commission (FSC), the key issue that took spotlight was a financial fiasco involving Optimus Asset Management. Some lawmakers raised doubts that the financial regulator gave preferential treatment to Optimus Asset Management, which has been allegedly linked to high-profile politicians.

During the audit held at the National Assembly on Monday, lawmakers largely stick to various suspicions related to the Optimus fund. Kang Min-gook of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) released a recorded conversation between Optimus CEO Kim Jae-hyun and a FSC official in 2017. 

“In the recording, the FSC official asked Optimus CEO Kim if he could come by 5 p.m. to submit an application form for post-approval for changing major shareholders. The official told Kim that he would go downstairs to accept the form as soon as the CEO arrives to the Public Service Center at the Central Government Complex in Seoul,” the lawmaker said. “The FSC helped Optimus to apply for the change of major shareholders.”

The PPP lawmaker claimed that such thing is impossible to happen unless there is some connection between former Optimus chairman Yang Ho and a top official of the financial regulator, pointing out that the official who talked with Kim was a senior manager.

In response, FSC Chairman Eun Sung-soo said, “Senior managers are generally not in charge of accepting application forms. At the time, Kim talked on the phone with a staff in charge of receiving applications, not a senior manager in charge, before submitting the form.” The FSC issued a statement claiming that it is completely a normal activity for a FSC employee to accept an application form at the Public Service Center on the first floor. 

Regarding the Optimus fund, PPP lawmaker Yoon Chang-hyun said, “There is a suspicion that by-then Optimus adviser Chae Dong-wook (former prosecutor general) met with Gyeonggi Governor Lee Jae-myung to ask for licensing approval. A lot of money flew to Optimus almost in a form of circular shareholding, and the prosecution is known to have secured a lobby list for the ruling Democratic Party.” The lawmaker asked when the FSC chairman recognized the case. 

“We did an overall investigation on large funds,” Eun responded. “I heard about the suspicion recently from the news. I didn’t know about it before,” he said.

Lawmakers blamed financial authorities for dereliction of supervisory duty and asked them to take responsibility for a series of recent financial disasters such as the PEF scandal. Yoo Dong-soo of the ruling Democratic Party said, “The biggest problem of the existing financial supervisory system is speed because supervision and execution are separated. Checking the major private equity funds and the financial authorities’ responses, we can see that the FSC and the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) do not keep pace with each other,” Yoo said. 

Yoo stressed the need for reorganizing the financial body, saying, “While the financial industry policy should step on an accelerator for the development of the financial industry, financial supervisors should step on the brakes to improve the soundness of financial companies and protect financial consumers. But the FSC is playing both roles.” 

In response, Eun said, “We will communicate with the FSS and the market, and work together to create harmony in playing our roles.” 

#Optimus Asset Management #financial audit #National Assembly #Financial Services Commission 
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