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Samsung anti-corruption panel vows close scrutiny on management succession

The head of Samsung’s anti-corruption committee said Thursday that the panel would look closely into a broad range of issues affecting the group, including management succession, corruption and labor issues, with independence and autonomy.

“The basic principles of the committee’s operation will be independence and autonomy,” said Kim Ji-hyung, the former Supreme Court justice who was named to head the compliance committee, in a press briefing on the day.

Kim said he had received confirmation directly from Samsung’s heir apparent, Lee Jae-yong, before accepting the position.

The compliance panel will comprise seven members, including two from civic groups, two from academia and one from Samsung Electronics -- former Samsung communications chief Rhee In-yong.

It is slated to begin its work after concluding an agreement with Samsung’s seven affiliates this month and receiving an official mandate through a board resolution, he said. The affiliates are Samsung Electronics, Samsung C&T, Samsung Life Insurance, Samsung SDI, Samsung Electro-Mechanics, Samsung SDS and Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance.


Former Supreme Court Justice Kim Ji-hyung, who was named to head Samsung’s compliance committee, speaks at a press briefing held in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)
Former Supreme Court Justice Kim Ji-hyung, who was named to head Samsung’s compliance committee, speaks at a press briefing held in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)

The panel will monitor the activities of Samsung’s board of directors and its management committees to ensure compliance with the law. It will also make recommendations or comments directly to the board regarding the establishment of compliance policies, Kim said. Company employees and members of the public will also be able to report breaches of law to the committee if the allegations concern anyone in a top management role.

Kim said the committee would look closely into “bribery, fraud, risky external sponsorship and illegal internal transactions between affiliates,” as well as “labor issues and management succession.”

“I think Samsung and its top management should be seen separately. People are hostile, cynical and critical of Samsung’s top management, not Samsung. They call for changes in the top management,” he said.

Doubts have persisted concerning the panel since the group announced its launch earlier this month. Immediately after the press briefing, Rep. Park Yong-jin of the Democratic Party of Korea released a statement questioning the appointment of former Justice Kim.

According to Park, Kim is responsible for the acquittal of Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee on bribery charges in 2009 after Lee was found to have issued below-market-price convertible bonds of Everland. The guilty verdict in the Samsung Everland case was later overturned by the Supreme Court.

The lawmaker also cast doubt on the effectiveness of the commission’s access to Samsung’s internal records, arguing that the compliance committee has no legally binding authority under the Commercial Act.

(shinjh@heraldcorp.com)
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