The Securities and Futures Commission of the Financial Services Commission judged earlier this year that Singapore-based Goldman Sachs India Investments conducted short selling without securing underlying assets, officials said Monday.
Naked short selling refers to the sale of borrowed shares in order to profit by buying them back at a lower price, but without actually borrowing the stocks first. Unlike short selling, naked short selling has been prohibited in Korea since 2008.
The fined company is said to have cited “human error” as the reason for its disputed tactic, which was not taken into account in the sanctioning decision, according to officials.
The latest move reflected the regulator’s announcement late last year that it will henceforth assume “zero tolerance” against illicit short selling.
This was the third time that Goldman Sachs affiliates faced financial sanctions in Seoul.
The FSC’s investigative body handed down a fine of 7.5 billion won on Goldman Sachs International in November last year for a case of naked short selling. Another affiliate of the investment banking group had been caught for similar violations in 2015, but was issued only a warning.
Pointing to the repeated cases of such illegal short selling, civic groups here blamed financial regulators for overlooking flaws in the domestic capital market system.
“As can be seen in the Goldman Sachs case, (Korea’s) stock market is vulnerable to illicit acts such as naked short selling, especially by foreign investors,” said the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice in a press release.
Claiming authorities failed to take the necessary measures to prevent such acts, the civic group demanded the resignation of FSC Chairman Choi Jong-ku.