FRA has established its first Asia Pacific office in Seoul, South Korea (“FRA Korea”), in collaboration with local partners who are well respected leaders in their market.
The launch of FRA Korea comes as the forensics and advisory market in the country has grown considerably over the past two decades, largely driven by increasing enforcement efforts by the Korean government.
This shift in approach can be attributed to the election of a new President, Suk-yeol Yoon, with a strong anti-corruption stance, increasing exposure of Korean corporations to US regulatory standards and a growing demand for alternatives to the Big Four in the forensic space.
The firm’s decision to establish a physical presence in Korea comes just months after it opened an office in Dubai, further demonstrating its commitment to its international expansion and diversification strategy.
At the helm of FRA Korea will be managing partner Ui-sung Kim and partner Hea-sil Chang taking lead on establishing the new office and delivering client service excellence. Young-gak “Ken” Yun will provide strategic direction in his capacity as senior advisor.
With the full support of FRA’s global team, these partners will be responsible for rolling out the firm’s full-service offering and breadth of expertise to corporations, government-related entities, financial institutions and bringing to bear their counsel across a range of areas such as sanctions, bribery and corruption, anti-money laundering, and compliance.
Ui-sung Kim – FRA Korea’s managing partner – was previously Founder and CEO at software company Magicsoft Inc. Prior to this, he worked at KPMG Korea for 14 years, where he was latterly Chief Information Officer and Partner leading the tax technology team.
Partner Hea-sil Chang brings regulatory experience to the FRA Korea leadership team on the ground. She joins FRA Korea after six years at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office (SPO) of the Republic of Korea, where she served as head of accounting analysis in the Anti-Corruption Coordination & External Affairs Division.
Senior Advisor Young-gak “Ken” Yun has more than 20 years of professional services experience, having worked in investment and accounting firms. In 1990, he founded Samjong Corporation, which subsequently became a member firm of KPMG in Korea. He is also founder and Group Chairman of Pavilion Investment Group.
Frances McLeod, co-founding Partner at FRA, said: “We are incredibly excited to be launching an office in South Korea. It follows several years of high-profile work in the Asia Pacific region and is an important strategic decision for us as Korea experiences huge economic growth and concurrent regulatory maturation. Young-gak Yun, Ui-sung Kim, and Hea-sil Chang’s extensive leadership and combined financial services experience, as well as their deep knowledge of the domestic market, will give our clients invaluable insight when navigating challenging regulatory proceedings. We’re thrilled to have them on board and leading this new venture.”
Toby Duthie, co-founding Partner and Managing Partner at FRA, said: “Establishing a physical footprint in Korea is a fantastic opportunity for the firm to continue to grow its multinational presence, and will not only elevate our client service offering, but also provide opportunities for us to share our organisational culture across several continents.”
Young-gak “Ken” Yun (윤영각), Senior Advisor of FRA Korea, said: “Korea has rapidly become the world’s 10th largest economy, but that growth comes with a dark side. I have concerns about recent embezzlement and money laundering cases in Korea, especially their types, frequency and scale. Such corruption is becoming more sophisticated and difficult to detect by traditional accounting audit. I think it’s time for us to implement more advanced forensic risk management systems to make our society more transparent and clean. I am sure that FRA’s advanced skills and technologies in these areas with help us work with clients to work towards resolving such issues in our society.”
Ui-sung Kim (김의성), Managing Partner of FRA Korea, said: “I am very pleased to have a chance to introduce FRA’s advanced forensic technologies and expertise to Korean businesses. In particular, I am confident that our capabilities with machine learning and high-volume data analysis will help fast-growing and multinational Korean corporations to review millions of documents in a cost effective, secure and efficient manner, while minimizing data privacy and security risks.”
Hea-sil Chang (장혜실), Partner of FRA Korea, said: “Korea has very unique forensic accounting regulations. The ‘Act on External Audit of Stock’, for example, requires that a company’s audit committee, upon being notified by external auditors of a violation of accounting standards, should appoint an external expert to investigate the violation. However, the appointment of accounting firms to investigate these violations has constantly raised questions about independence. I am very excited for FRA Korea to offer a credible alternative to the Big Four accounting firms, assuring Korean companies of quality, independent forensic accounting advice without having to worry about conflicts of interest.”
FRA Korea will host a seminar on 7 December in Seoul, titled Bridging Domestic Regulatory Trends with International Best Practice. The agenda will feature presentations and panel discussions with our partners in Korea as well as from our US offices. Register your interest to attend at email@example.com.