|Woori Bank's headquarters in central Seoul / Korea Times file|
By Kim Bo-eun
Woori Bank said Thursday it has begun looking into the legal grounds to cancel the recruitment of 19 employees involved in unfair hiring by the lender from 2015 to 2017.
"We have begun a procedure for a legal review on canceling the hiring of employees who unfairly joined the bank, an issue which was raised at the National Assembly audit on Tuesday," Woori Bank said in a statement.
The FSS inspected 11 commercial banks on suspicions of irregular hiring practices by banks after the issue was raised at the National Assembly in 2017. It found irregularities in 22 cases and forwarded them to the prosecution. The prosecution indicted seven banks for having hired certain applicants by manipulating their scores. A top court ruling was made on the Woori Bank case and trials are ongoing for Shinhan, KB Kookmin and Hana banks.
Rep. Bae Jin-gyo of the Justice Party said 41 out of 61 illicitly hired employees were still working for the four major lenders.
Investigations showed a total of 37 applicants who had failed to pass the recruitment procedure for Woori Bank were found to have been hired based on ties with figures within the bank. The Supreme Court ruled that 27 of them were clearly involved in unfair hiring practices. However, 19 of them are still working for the lender.
Rep. Bae and Rep. Min Byoung-dug of the Democratic Party of Korea stated at the National Assembly audit of the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) that the employment contracts of these employees should be cancelled.
The lawmaker said banks need to come up with relief measures for other people who weren't recruited due to the unfair hiring of these applicants.
Members of a civic group staged a protest at Woori Bank's headquarters in central Seoul, Tuesday, demanding the lender punish those responsible for the hiring irregularities that occurred, and provide relief measures for any victims.
FSS Governor Yoon Suk-heun said the agency would discuss with the Financial Services Commission, the authority in charge of financial policies, the matter of legislating regulations that would cancel the hiring contracts of employees who joined the banks via the irregular practice.
Woori Bank Vice President Kang Sung-mo who attended the audit for questioning, said the lender would conduct a review into whether this is possible.
This is the first action a bank involved in the hiring irregularities has taken over unfairly hired employees still with the bank.
A Woori Bank official said it took measures after the hiring irregularities surfaced years back to prevent the practice from recurring.
"Exemplary hiring guidelines were set up after cases surfaced and no such cases have occurred since 2017," he said.
The Korea Federation of Banks set up the guidelines in 2018 after the hiring scandal became public.