중앙데일리

Tada team take lawmaker to court

VCNC and Socar’s Lee accuse Rep. Kim of defamation, obstruction

Dec 05,2019
VCNC, operator of van-hailing service Tada, and Socar CEO Lee Jae-woong are taking independent lawmaker Kim Kyung-jin to court on charges of defamation, abuse of authority and obstruction of business, the company confirmed Wednesday.

VCNC and Lee filed the complaint against Rep. Kim on Nov. 6.

Kim has been one of the most vocal supporters of the local taxi industry and its protests against Tada. He made regular appearances at press conferences hosted by taxi associations, calling the service “illegal” and the CEOs of VCNC and Socar “crooks” or “criminals.”

Socar is VCNC’s parent company.

According to the complaint, Kim made “false” comments about Tada during public appearances, like saying the service had links to the Moon Jae-in government. It also said the lawmaker had disclosed confidential information about the company and abused his authority.

According to Tada, Kim claimed prosecutors had decided the service was illegal but postponed their indictment upon President Moon’s request. In an October press conference held by the Seoul Taxi Association, he urged Tada’s investors to withdraw their money as they were also eligible to be legally punished as accomplices.

In July, he submitted a bill to remove the legal clause that Tada had used to justify its operation in Korea’s transportation service laws.

“Rep. Kim repeatedly violated individual and business rights while distributing ungrounded rumors of links between the company and the government,” Tada said in a statement, adding that he “used his authority as a lawmaker to push on investigative authorities and disclosed details of the ongoing investigation.”

Socar CEO Lee Jae-woong wrote the lawmaker’s “blunt remarks irrelevant to the common good should no longer be tolerated” in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

“A lawmaker that repeatedly violates individual rights by thoughtless comments and spreading false news should rightfully be punished by law,” he added.

Korean lawmakers are granted legislative immunity for votes and speeches made inside the National Assembly. But the rule doesn’t apply for conduct outside the building, and there have been past cases where the court has ordered lawmakers to compensate plaintiffs claiming damages or defamation due to falsely distributed information.

In 2016, for example, a lawmaker was cleared of distributing misinformation in a press release given to reporters inside the National Assembly but was found guilty of the same offense for a Facebook post with the same details.

Tada has been facing fire on multiple fronts, dealing not only with the prosecutor investigation, but also fighting a pending bill at the National Assembly that could completely take its vans off the streets.

In late October, Liberal Democratic Party Lawmaker Rep. Park Hong-keun proposed an amendment to Korea’s transportation service laws to take out the clause which Tada’s business was based on. Park is also a member of the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Committee.

While domestic law prohibits unlicensed companies from offering paid ride services, Tada grounded its legality on a clause that allows rented vans to be offered with drivers.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]


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