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South Korean Regulator Said to Collect Kofia Data for Rate Probe

Sept. 16 (Bloomberg) -- South Korean antitrust agency officials collected documents from a financial industry group that sets benchmark rates amid a 14-month probe into borrowing costs, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Fair Trade Commission inspectors on Sept. 13 gathered data about certificate of deposit rates from a Seoul office of the Korea Financial Investment Association, whose members include brokerages and asset managers, the people said, asking not to be identified as they aren’t authorized to talk to media. The Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported the visit earlier today.

South Korea in December introduced a new benchmark rate for bank lending as the investigation into potential collusion by lenders and brokerages to manipulate borrowing costs drew ire from customers and lawmakers. The FTC had begun looking into possible rigging of the 91-day CD cost, a key money-market rate in the nation, in July 2012.

A spokesman for the Korea Financial Investment Association -- which sets the CD rate twice a day based on submissions by 10 brokerages -- declined to comment on the FTC visit and asked not to be named, citing the group’s policy. The FTC’s press official didn’t return five calls to his office.

To contact the reporter on this story: Seonjin Cha in Seoul at scha2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chitra Somayaji at csomayaji@bloomberg.net

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