Is FSC Nominee Eun Sung-soo Crypto-friendly?
Eun Sung-soo, chief executive of the state-run Export-Import Bank of Korea, has been nominated to head the Financial Services Commission (FSC). Having served at the Ministry of Economy and Finance for about three decades, the nominee is considered a seasoned bureaucrat. Eun‘s predecessor Choi Jong-ku advocated “an orderly exit of cryptocurrency exchanges.” The regulatory agency barred banks from issuing the virtual accounts required for cryptocurrency transactions. The FSC said that the move was intended to prevent money laundering, but the industry sees it as a disapproving stance on cryptocurrency. The cryptocurrency circle is waiting to see what stance the new leader will take regarding the digital tokens. Who is Eun Sung-soo? Eun was born in 1961 in Gunsan, North Jeolla. He graduated from Gunsan High School and then went on to attend Seoul National University with a major in economics. He also earned a doctoral degree at the University of Hawaii in economics. Eun’s public career started at the Finance Ministry in 1984 and he has served in various roles including as a manager of the financial cooperation division and director of the international financial division between 2011 and 2012. Eun is credited with striking currency swap deals involving Japan and China. In the Park Geun-hye administration, he worked as a member of the government‘s economics committee. In 2016, he became the head of Korea Investment Corporation and was tapped as president at Export-Import Bank of Korea the following year. Relations with Choi Jong-ku The incoming chief has taken a similar path to Choi. Choi is also considered an expert on international finance as he served as director of the international financial division at the Finance Ministry. Choi also held the post of assistant minister at the Finance Ministry and the head of the state-run bank. Eun is also known for having close ties with Choi. A role in the US-China trade dispute? Blue House spokesperson Ko Min-jung said that the presidential office expects Eun to “stabilize the financial markets, accelerate financial innovation and advance the financial industry.” The nominee comes off as humble, down to earth and highly friendly. His aptitude in relations was pronounced when Eun managed to settle tensions with the labor union at the Export-Import Bank of Korea. The bank’s profitability also significantly improved during his stint, with net profit surging from 16.8 billion won in 2017 to 685.9 billion won in 2019. He is also known as being opinionated. In a recent briefing at the National Assembly, Eun described the ongoing dispute with Japan as “a fight in the neighborhood.” “If each side exchanges punches, both sides get punched, which means the fight damages both sides,” he said. “To keep a certain country‘s freedom and sovereignty, there should be sacrifices. If one fears sacrifices, freedom can’t be ensured. If needed, we need to show willingness.” Crypto-friendly? Eun‘s stance on cryptocurrency remains unclear. But many insiders say that his interest is not that great, consequently his position could go hand-in-hand with Choi. A cabinet appointment and certain key policy posts, such as the head of the FSC, are subject to parliamentary hearings. During the hearing, he could make his case on cryptocurrency more clearly. Kwon Dae-young, director-general of the Financial Innovation Bureau at the FSC, will be in charge of policies concerning cryptocurrency.