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Financial crimes on rise in S. Korea

All Headlines 10:32 January 09, 2012

SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- The number of serious crimes in South Korea's financial sector increased last year, data showed Monday, raising the need to bolster countermeasures to prevent investment losses.

Of the 209 cases probed for unfair trade practices in 2011, 72.7 percent were referred to the state prosecutors' office for criminal investigation, according to data by the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS). The number represents a gain from 63.3 percent in 2007.

The increase was largely led by sharp gains in unfair trading involving company executives and major shareholders. A total of 25 cases were due to false information dispersion and inaccurate regulatory filings made by company executives and large shareholders, FSS said.

Other irregularities involved stock price manipulation and usage of undisclosed information.

Market watchers attributed the increase to generally lax punishment policies.

"The level of punishment for unfair trade practices is quite light in South Korea compared with other countries," said a former FSS executive.

"Even if a case is sent to state prosecutors, punishment is usually limited in social volunteer services or suspended sentences."

An FSS official said the watchdog plans to tighten supervision as many of the unfair trade practices could lead to losses for retail investors.


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