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Probable top-down nomination of new IBK CEO triggers backlash

The state-run Industrial Bank of Korea faced the new year amid heated controversy concerning the likely nomination of a former senior presidential aide as its next CEO.

On Tuesday, Reps. Chae Yi-bai of the Bareunmirae Party and Chu Hye-seon of the Justice Party held a press conference at the National Assembly along with members of the Korean Financial Industry Union, opposing the nomination of Yoon Jong-won, former senior presidential secretary for economic affairs, as IBK chief.

Lawmakers and members of the Korean Financial Industry Union hold a press conference at the National Assembly, in protest of the upcoming IBK CEO nomination. (Yonhap)
Lawmakers and members of the Korean Financial Industry Union hold a press conference at the National Assembly, in protest of the upcoming IBK CEO nomination. (Yonhap)

“It seems that Yoon will be named as the next IBK chief, while no efforts have been made whatsoever to consult with other members of the bank,” said Rep. Chu.

The lawmaker pointed out that the Moon Jae-in administration has its roots in the so-called “candle revolution,” the nationwide candlelit rallies in 2016 to protest against the extensive corruption scandal pivoting upon former President Park Geun-hye.

“The (ruling) Democratic Party used to criticize bureaucratic power abuse as toxic, but is backing such practices now,” Chu said.

Yoon’s imminent nomination has been the subject of rumors for a while. IBK unionists have been questioning the candidate’s banking expertise and leadership.

The list of potential candidates that Cheong Wa Dae had in mind besides Yoon were Ban Jang-sik, another former presidential secretary, and two former Finance Ministry officials.

The pick led to disputes on financial bureaucracy, often referred to as the “Mofia,” a term that combines “Ministry of Finance” and “Mafia.”

The chief of the state-run lender is to be appointed by the president, based on recommendations from the Financial Services Commission chairman. The given post currently remains empty, as former CEO Kim Do-jin ended his three-year term Friday.

“We need a leader with profound understanding and clear vision for the banking business. While continuing our protests, we will also consider staging a walkout if Cheong Wa Dae names the bank’s chief from among these (disputed) candidates,” the union said in its statement.

By Jie Ye-eun (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)

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