LG Electronics fined W85M for obstructing probe

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LG Electronics fined W85M for obstructing probe

The Fair Trade Commission yesterday fined LG Electronics 85 million won ($74,300) for obstructing its investigation into claims of unfair pricing practices in March.

Employees at the lucrative LG unit’s marketing division collected eight hard drives, hid them in a luxury bag and locked them in an office to stop prevent the watchdog’s agents from getting their hands on them and using them as evidence, the FTC said.

They also tried to secretly move the memory drives when investigators demanded that the door be opened, the FTC added.

Another manager at the marketing division deleted files on his external drive after FTC agents ordered him not to do so, according to the commission.

The commission imposed a 50 million won fine on the company and levied an additional 35 million on individuals who tried to obstruct its probe.

The investigation began after small retailers asked the FTC to check if the conglomerate was providing its products at different prices.

The commission said the fine was lower than those previously slapped on Samsung Electronics and SK C&C for similar wrongdoing. Samsung was ordered to pay 400 million won in March and SK C&C had to pay 290 million won early this month.

“We’ve decided that the company did not systematically try to hide the evidence, but rather that the employees acted on instinct,” said Go Byung-hee, director of the FTC’s Seoul office.

“For the cases involving Samsung Electronics and SK C&C, we obtained proof that the companies had planned to hide the evidence in advance.”

The commission is now believed to be preparing another probe to find out if local brokerages colluded to fix interest rates on certificates of deposit.

It is already looking at documents and data confiscated from 10 brokerages, according to the sources in the financial market.

The FTC declined to comment on the matter.

By Lee Sun-min, Yonhap [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]

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