The Financial Supervisory Service, South Korea's primary financial regulatory body, has issued management advisories to the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperatives after losing approximately 50.1 billion won ($37.5 million) it poured into an alternative high-yield overseas investment, as revealed by industry sources on Sunday.
The NFFC, the umbrella organization for regional fishers' cooperatives throughout the country, reportedly lost the entire principal amount of its investment without taking any further action, raising concerns over the federation's investment and risk assessment practices.
Upon evaluation, the FSS issued to the NFFC advisories concerning nine matters requiring caution and five matters needing improvement to bolster the federation’s due diligence procedures for foreign investments.
In 2018, the NFFC made an overseas investment valued at $40 million dollars. By 2021, due to borrower defaults, NFFC saw impairment losses of $21.3 million in 2020 and an additional $16.5 million in 2021.
Thus, the NFFC recorded the entire 50.1 billion won investment as a loss.
The FSS highlighted NFFC's shortcomings in risk assessment, noting issues like an inappropriate loan-to-value ratio and the absence of documents verifying business progress. The regulator emphasized that the NFFC lacked accountability and measures to prevent recurrence following the failed investment.
In addition to the investment advisories, the FSS suggested improvements in the cooperative federation's risk management, particularly addressing sudden cash outflows and asset-liability mismatches.
The FSS also criticized the categorizing of nine NFFC cooperative loans for solar power projects as "normal" although construction had been stopped.
The FSS further reprimanded the NFFC for its internal controls. Although in 2014, the FSS had recommended a compulsory leave system that requires that key employees be granted leaves of up to five days during audits to detect financial discrepancies, the NFSC hasn't ordered such leaves.