Financial watchdog to carry out probe into Woori bank

SEOUL, Dec. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's financial watchdog plans to carry out a comprehensive probe into Woori Bank early next year, a senior official said Sunday, amid allegations of irregularities involving other large lenders in the country.

The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) plans to inspect Woori Bank, the flagship unit of Woori Finance Holdings Co., next year after having experienced alleged irregularities involving Kookmin Bank, one of South Korea's largest lenders, the FSS official said.

Woori has already been the subject of a special probe over its 2007 deal involving a 3.4 trillion won (US$3.2 billion) project to build a distribution complex in southern Seoul.

Woori Bank is accused of selling the financial project to investors without fully explaining the entailed risks of possible financial losses.

The planned full-scale probe into Woori comes as suspcisions arose that the Tokyo office of Kookmin Bank has allegedly raked in 2 billion won from illegal lending and sending hefty commissions from it back home.

Separately, Kookmin Bank has been under criticism over other wrongdoings including its heavy investment loss related to Kazakhstan-based Bank Center Credit.

Last week, Lee Kun-ho, president of Kookmin Bank, issued a public apology saying that he will take responsibility for the mishaps.

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