The Korea Herald


Former bank officials convicted for recruitment scandal

By Lim Jae-seong

Published : March 24, 2023 - 15:37

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The headquarters of KEB Hana Bank in Seoul (Yonhap) The headquarters of KEB Hana Bank in Seoul (Yonhap)

Four former Hana Bank officials have been found guilty by the Supreme Court for manipulating recruitment results in favor of graduates from certain schools and those recommended by high-ranking bank officials or financial authorities.

They were also accused of discriminating female applicants from 2013 to 2016, local media reported Friday.

Song, a former head of the bank’s human resources department, was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended for two years, and a 2 million won ($1,550) fine. Song’s successor, Kang, was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years, and a 1 million won fine.

Oh and Park, who were also part of the human resources department, were fined 10 million won each and the bank 7 million won. The employees' full names were not given.

“Fairness in recruitment is a very important value in this society short of decent jobs. But the defendants betrayed the applicants’ confidence and severely hindered the bank’s recruitment,” said the Supreme Court ruling.

Hana Bank, one of the biggest South Korean banks, was accused of fabricating applicants’ evaluation scores during the recruitment process since the suspicion was first raised in 2018 by Rep. Sim Sang-jung of the Justice Party.

The Financial Supervisory Service found 16 recommended applicants who had not passed the evaluation during a recruitment in 2013. One had gotten a score of zero in an interview.

The authority also found that the bank swapped out 14 chosen applicants who had passed the test with 14 unsuccessful candidates from "more prestigious colleges." It had also replaced two female finalists with two male candidates who had lower scores.

The bank also was found to have limited the number of female recruits to a quarter of the men in the second half of 2013. The court said the bank officials had breached the Equal Employment Act and that they had interfered in business.

Such recruitment practices continued until 2016. Privileges were given to certain university graduates, male applicants and those named on a so-called “VIP list” managed by the bank that marked those who were recommended by the bank’s executives.

Meanwhile, Hana Financial Group Chairman Ham Young-joo, who was CEO of Hana Bank at the time, was acquitted of charges that he unfairly influenced the bank's recruitment process, at a trial carried out separately at Seoul Western District Court in March 2022. The court said it could not find evidence that he ordered the fabrication of applicants’ scores.