Departure ban on Oxy’s former head lifted

By Bak Se-hwan
  • Published : Oct 12, 2017 - 15:54
  • Updated : Oct 12, 2017 - 18:33
The Seoul Administrative Court on Thursday lifted a departure ban against John Lee, a former head of Oxy Reckitt Benckiser Korea and current CEO of Google Korea, upholding his petition to end it.

Former head of Oxy Reckitt Benckiser Korea and current CEO of Google Korea John Lee (Yonhap)

The court said while the ban would cause him “irreparable damage,” there is insufficient evidence to believe that allowing him to leave the country would adversely affect the public welfare.

Thursday’s decision came after Lee who headed the local unit of the British company from 2005 to 2010 was acquitted of charges in connection to the company’s humidifier disinfectant products which were found to contain a toxic substance that causes permanent lung damage when inhaled.

Lee was barred from leaving South Korea in May last year. The following month, state prosecutors demanded a 10-year jail term for Lee on charges of accidental homicide and falsely advertising the deadly products as being safe in the course of business operations. But the lower court found him not guilty in January this year, which was upheld on July 26 by an appeals court.

Lee filed a petition to have the ban lifted in April this year.

The toxic humidifier disinfectant scandal, which also involved several other household goods makers, came to the surface in 2011 when some pregnant women and young children died of what then appeared to be a mysterious lung disease.

Since then, the government launched an investigation to find out their causes, and later confirmed that the case is connected to the use of some humidifier disinfectants.

An appeals court found Shin Hyun-woo, another ex-chief of Oxy and Lee’s predecessor, guilty of overlooking the sales of harmful products that led to at least 70 deaths here, sentencing him to 6 years in prison.

By Bak Se-hwan (