Homeplus execs accused of selling data can’t leave country

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Homeplus execs accused of selling data can’t leave country

The former and current executives of Homeplus, the local discount chain owned by U.K. retailer Tesco, were slapped with a travel ban yesterday over allegations that customers’ personal information collected during in-store prize giveaways was sold to insurance companies.

The revelation dealt a further blow to the chain that is already beset by strained relations with its union, slumping sales and a separate scandal surrounding a giveaway event.

A joint investigation team of prosecutors and the government imposed travel bans on Lee Seung-han, the former CEO, and incumbent Do Sung-hwan, alleging that top-management involvement led to the sale of personal data.

The investigation team specializing in personal data leak cases said the retailer allegedly collected data from 2.5 million people over the past five years through registration forms for prize giveaways and sold it for about 4,000 won ($3.80) per person to multiple insurance companies.

Authorities say Homeplus may have pocketed a total of 10 billion won from the sales.

The store’s labor union on Thursday said Homeplus offered workers 100 won for each person signed up for the giveaways.

“The company regularly pressed the cashiers to have customers register for the lottery event, setting daily targets,” the labor union said in a statement.

The minimum requirement was 50 per cashier and the incentive was given only for those who met the requirement.

“The headquarters also gave awards to the branch that attracted the most people,” the union said, “It’s really deplorable that Homeplus used us to cash in on an immoral business scam.”

Unionized workers at the retailer have long locked horns with management over wages. The labor union said the hourly wage of temporary workers - mostly women - is 5,450 won. The union called on management to increase the hourly wage by 700 won, while Homeplus insists on a 200-won increase.

Homeplus also faces accusations that its workers tampered with the selection of winners in a lottery in April. The employees allegedly selected a friend as the winner of the first prize, a BMW car, and sold the vehicle. Four men were indicted earlier this week.

Sales of the chain continue to lag behind E-Mart and Lotte Mart. For the first half of this year, Homeplus posted a 4 percent decrease in sales.

BY PARK EUN-JEE[ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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