[EDITORIALS]Gangsters and fair tradeThe Fair Trade Commission is promoting a bill that will grant the antitrust agency the permanent right to demand that financial institutions submit information about their customer companies’ transactions. The right was introduced for a limited period of three years in 1999 to prevent illegal cross-affiliate transactions in conglomerates. The antitrust agency extended the period two times and is now promoting a permanent grant.
The bill will also give the commission the right to seal data or storage areas containing information it believes it needs and the right to fine companies resisting its investigations in proportion to the time period they resist. Among the 4,500 companies that have been investigated by the antitrust agency since 1998, only nine refused or hindered the investigations. Accordingly, it is hard to understand why the agency is trying to adopt such strong rights, the business world says.
Companies are concerned and doubt whether the Fair Trade Commission is really fair. The business world thinks that the agency is seeking other weapons to press conglomerates after it failed to introduce a ban on circular cross-affiliate investment.
The agency has been criticized for trying to control companies in accordance with the administration’s ideology. Now that such an agency is seeking an authority nearly equal to the level of the judiciary’s, no company will be able to rest easy. Even the governing Uri Party said the agency should quit its policies inclined to regulations and restrictions on companies.
In addition, the Fair Trade Commission is applying a double standard to the business world and to itself. The commission is emphasizing fairness and transparency to the business world, but the smell of corruption is waffing from inside the agency.
Recently, it was discovered that some Fair Trade Commission officials, who visited Hyundai Motor Co. for an investigation were given high-value gift certificates. One of the officials, who felt the pang of his conscience and returned the certificates, was left out in the cold by the other officials. So what is the difference between the antitrust agency officials’ practices and those of gangsters? Companies are deeply concerned that such officials will have the right to demand financial institutions’ information about companies, the right to seal data and the right to fine companies resisting investigations.
The Fair Trade Commission should tighten its own discipline rather than trying to expand its authority to touch companies.