FSS to check Shinhan Bank for alleged search on politicians

SEOUL, Oct. 21 (Yonhap) -- The financial regulator said Monday it has launched a probe into allegations that Shinhan Bank Co. looked up bank account details of South Korean politicians without consent, after a lawmaker raised the suspicion at a recent parliamentary audit.

The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) dispatched a team of inspectors to check whether such allegations are true and if the bank has well maintained its internal control system on the private information of its clients.

The FSS probe came as an opposition lawmaker claimed at a parliamentary audit that Shinhan Bank has illegally searched through personal account details of some key politicians in the opposition Democratic United Party between April and September 2010.

Rep. Kim Ki-sik, who made the accusation last week, said that the timeline fits considering the late 2010 was when the then chairman of Shinhan Financial Group Co., the bank's holding company, had been under scrutiny by opposition lawmakers for having close political ties with the then-President Lee Myung-bak and his aides who are all from the same home town.

The FSS has initially found that the allegations were false because the list of politicians that Kim claims have been searched were in fact identical names of ordinary clients.

But the regulator decided to take a closer look again by broadening the investigation to the overall data control system at the bank.

Shinhan Bank has already been fined in 2010 by the regulator for illegal access to personal information.

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