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Intelligence Probing Dollar Reserves of Top 4 Companies

Posted October. 15, 2008 08:48,   


President Lee Myung-bak has warned companies against hoarding dollars after receiving a report from the National Intelligence Service.

Sources close to intelligence and large domestic corporations said yesterday that the service probed alleged foreign currency speculation by the country’s four largest companies. The report was then relayed to the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae.

Since then, intelligence officials have delivered the president’s message of urging the four corporations to prevent the won from depreciating further.

A senior executive of one of the four companies said, “An intelligence official visited our company Oct. 9 and asked, ‘I heard that a certain company has not sold dollars at all. Is this right?’; ‘The other three large corporations are suspected of hoarding dollars. Did you know that?’; or ‘How many dollars does your company have?’”

A source at the company said, “Since President Lee raised the suspicion that large corporations hoard dollars and that the company in question had yet to sell dollars, we had no choice but to take his words seriously.”

An intelligence source said, “If the National Intelligence Service contributes to stabilizing the foreign exchange market, this can be considered the proper function of an intelligence agency.”

Questions have arisen, however, over the role of the spy agency, which is known to have asked certain state-run and private companies to submit reports on their financial support for civic organizations under the previous administration.

Lawyer Jang Yu-shik said, “The National Intelligence Service Act stipulates that the role of national intelligence is limited to gathering, writing and distributing security intelligence (prevention of the overthrow of the government and espionage, anti-terrorism, and fighting international criminal rings). In efforts to prevent espionage, the National Intelligence Agency is only allowed to collect intelligence on corporations to catch industrial spies.”