SEOUL South Korea is looking into share trading of 13 companies which are believed to be linked to possible presidential candidates ahead of an election in two months, the country's financial watchdog said on Monday.
The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) said it is investigating whether there may have been speculation in shares in eight firms which are thought to be linked to possible candidates and is looking into five others ahead of an official inquiry.
There could be more as the election date approaches, a senior FSS official said, declining to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to media.
"Due to swift changes in the political situation inside the country and as presidential candidates emerge, the possibility of unusual politics-related stock movements has grown," the FSS said in a statement.
South Korea's Constitutional Court removed President Park Geun-hye from office on Friday over a graft scandal, triggering a snap presidential election that must be held within 60 days.
The FSS did not disclose details on the stock listings it is looking into, as the information could affect share prices.
The FSS has been operating a special team since early January to look for speculation in stocks which are perceived by investors to be linked to presidential candidates.
Any traders who warrant a criminal investigation will be handed over to prosecutors.
Financial authorities, including the Korea Exchange, are monitoring around 150 such listings.
The financial regulator said on Sunday it will closely monitor markets to prevent speculators and unfair trade practices ahead of the election.
(Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Kim Coghill)