|Financial Supervisory Service Governor Yoon Suk-heun; and the logo of law firm Yoon & Yang / Korea Times files|
By Park Jae-hyuk
Yoon & Yang, the nation's sixth-largest law firm, has emerged as one of the biggest threats to the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) which seeks to impose heavy sanctions against the sellers of Lime Asset Management's controversial trade finance funds and their CEOs.
This came as the attorney for the sellers has continuously reinforced its lineup of lawyers in its financial group after accepting the Lime case.
According to industry sources, Tuesday, former prosecutor Kim Young-ki, who had investigated into the alleged mis-selling of the Lime funds as the leader of the Stock Crime Joint Investigation Team at the Seoul Southern District Prosecutors' Office, is considering joining Yoon & Yang.
He left the prosecutors' office last month after he had been sent to the Gwangju District Public Prosecutors' Office. The former prosecutor will not be able to take charge of cases involving Lime until next year and it has yet to be decided whether or not Yoon & Yang would hire him.
However, victims of the Lime fund fiasco fear he may share "his knowledge" with the law firm meaning it could take effective countermeasures against the prosecution and financial authorities.
Throughout this year, Yoon & Yang has hired four additional lawyers who were in charge of financial regulations at the FSS. They are Yeon Seung-jae, Heo Hwan-jun, Choi Jong-youl and Choi Yong-ho.
Yoon & Yang Managing Partner Lee Myung-soo, who has led the growth of the law firm's financial group since 2010, had worked for the FSS for 10 years. Lee Ju-yong, Jung Hyun-suk and Je Ok-pyeong are also among the law firm's lawyers who had worked for the financial watchdog.
The connection with these lawyers led Woori Bank, Shinhan Investment, Daishin Securities and KB Securities to choose Yoon & Yang as their legal representatives for the Lime case.
Based on the reinforced lawyer lineup, the Lime fund sellers are expected to strongly protest the FSS as the regulator plans to start the necessary procedure against them next month.
Although the sellers have claimed they were also swindled by Lime, sources familiar with this issue said FSS Governor Yoon Suk-heun wants to punish CEOs of the financial firms involved in the fiasco, as he did against the former and incumbent executives of Woori and Hana banks over their responsibility for alleged mis-selling of derivate linked funds (DLFs).
If action is taken against the financial firms' CEOs, they will not be able to work in the financial industry for the next three years.
Given that Yoon & Yang previously led the court to approve the injunction removing the punishment imposed on Woori Chairman Son Tae-seung over the DLF fiasco, however, the law firm may lead the FSS' possible moves against the chiefs of the Lime fund sellers to the same conclusion.
The court questioned the watchdog's rights to take action against bank executives. But the FSS immediately appealed against the decision, so the first hearing on the validity of the sanction against the Woori chairman will take place this Friday.