Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Deutsche Bank May Face Record Fine For Selling Korean Stocks

Deutsche Bank's Korean trading arm is expected to face a record fine from Seoul's Financial Services Commission after it sold a large amount of stock on November 11th last year, pushing the KosPI – which stands for "Korea’s Pride Index" - down 53.12 points. Under Korean Market Securities Law, foreign financial firms are permitted to buy Korean stocks, but not sell them, even if the stocks are traded outside Korea, as on November 11th when the transactions were executed in Hong Kong and London by the German bank.

After the national soccer team, cheering the KosPI upwards is the second most popular activity in the sports sections of Korea’s newspapers. Under headlines such as "Pride as Korean Stock Market Rises 2 Points", "KosPI Rises to 5,000 Year High" and "KosPI Up, Inferior Japanese Nikkei Down Again", people feel a keen sense of national shame on the rare days when the index rises negatively. Indeed, the outrageous assault on Korea’s national pride by Deutsche Bank comes after almost three years of sustained negative rises in the index which have caused some to suggest that there is a German conspiracy to destabilize the Korean economy. However, German financial commentators have dismissed the notion as fanciful given that the German government and banking system has been fully occupied in the last year with trying to destroy the Euro.

But a spokesman for the FSC said that the evidence of Deutsche Bank's selling of Korean stocks – contrary to securities laws – was quite clear. The FSC emphasized that it was not trying to infringe on the workings of capitalism because foreign trading firms were free to buy Korean stocks whenever they wanted to. But what appears to have happened in the Deutsche case is that the bank profited from causing the index to decline, an activity which some foreigners call 'financial trading' but one which some politicians in Seoul have termed "economic terrorism". European financial authorities have refused to censure Deutsche Bank following the incident however, saying that all financial trading is a form of economic terrorism, which has long since been made legal in capitalist Western countries due to corporate special interests.

Two months prior to Germany's unprovoked attack on Korea, a large unnamed French bank is believed to have bought a substantial amount of Korean stock at the close of business, suddenly pushing the KosPI up 55 points in a move celebrated in the media and by the Seoul Metropolitan Government - which in response launched the start of a 'French Culture Week' two days later. At the time the Financial Services Commission claimed the move was a vote of confidence in the Korean stock market, expressing the expectation that other large global financial institutions would follow suit. Deutsche Bank's reckless decision to sell obviously undervalued Korean stocks seems to have now dashed these hopes.

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