[EDITORIALS]No sweeping indictmentWatching the arrests of the chairman of the nation’s No.3 conglomerate and the head of its restructuring committee, one cannot help but feel disappointment. Sure, the scene manifests the conglomerates’ problems, holdovers from the days of compressed growth. But with questions of fairness aside, the prosecution’s finding of illegalities committed by SK Corp. shows us that transparent management is still an issue for a large number of Korean businesses.
The allegations against SK, which come on the heels of Hyundai Business Group’s secret funneling of money to North Korea, deals yet another blow to credibility of the nation’s companies. All businesses should take this opportunity to build a stronger and more transparent structure. Businesses should also take to heart the changed times, where a top business leader is arrested over illegal stock transactions.
We want to stress, however, that it is undesirable for the prosecution to impugn the entire business community with a sweeping indictment. The government repeatedly denies that the prosecution’s investigation into SK is a signal that it will get tough on the conglomerates, but there have been actions that indictate otherwise. In addition to the prosecution’s investigation into SK, the Fair Trade Commission has said it will look into possible internal trade among four conglomerates. The cascading suggestions of wrongdoing have the business sector on edge.
In this time of economic uncertainty the added concern over Korean conglomerates’ credibility is the last thing we need. We do not mean that illegalities should be overlooked. But reform should not take place under the guise of punishment for infractions -- alleged or proven.
Korean conglomerates have questionable practices that are holdovers from government-directed rapid economic growth. The new administration should put in place standard guidelines to break the cycle of transgressions and nurture an environment that supports a brand new start for the nation’s enterprises.