[EDITORIALS] A suspicious smell

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[EDITORIALS] A suspicious smell

The Fair Trade Commission's decision to investigate the 80 companies belonging to the six biggest conglomerate groups in the country for unfair inside trading came out of the blue and smells suspiciously like a political ploy. The commission has turned on its own promise at the beginning of the year that it would not conduct any investigations into the affairs of the conglomerates. The commission's probe also comes at a most inappropriate time, a time when the undercurrents of political contention are rushing out with a presidential election to be held in a few months.

Investigating unfair inside trading is one of the commission's principle duties, and the commission can ?and should ?exercise its right to conduct an investigation whenever it feels that entrepreneurial management in the country needs some checking. Moreover, the accounting scandals that have taken over the American economy have highlighted the importance of keeping business transactions transparent more than ever in recent days. Therefore, it can also be seen as a political offensive by businesses to avoid the burden of such investigations from the Fair Trade Commission.

However, the Federation of Korean Industries is arguing, not without reason, that the commission's sudden and unforeseen request to the businesses to submit records of their transactions is nothing but an attempt to tame the conglomerates. The businesses say that they cannot trust the consistency and the transparency of the commission.

The commission should explain if there is a need for such an investigation. Otherwise, it should back off immediately. This is no time for the government and businesses to be gabbing. These are hard enough times with the American economic crisis and a lame duck administration casting shadows on our economy. The commission would do well to realize that the protests from businesses more or less reflect how they have abused their power until now.
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