Four public corporations face $14.5 million in fines

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Four public corporations face $14.5 million in fines

The Korea Fair Trade Commission imposed a total of 16 billion won ($14.5 million) in fines on four public corporations for unfair business practices.

The nation’s antitrust agency said on Thursday that the Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco), Korea Expressway Corporation, Korea Railroad Corporation (Korail) and Korea National Oil Corporation employed practices that favored their subsidiaries.

According to the commission, from 2008-12, Kepco encouraged its five affiliated thermal power stations to do business with Korea Electric Power Industrial Development (Kepid), whose services include reading meters, operation and maintenance of power plants, recycling fly ash and leasing multipurpose buildings. Kepid is also a Kepco affiliate.

In transactions between Kepco and the five power stations, Kepco KDN, a provider of power IT products and services, reaped about 10 percent of the contract value by selling IT products to the stations.

The FTC also found that Kepid signed a contract to install power-reading facilities and run regular checks with Jeonwoo Business Company, where former Kepco employees work.

The commission said Kepco took back some payments of its to subcontractors in 80 cases from March 2011 to January 2014, saying mistakes were made in the initial contracts. In addition, it failed to pay some employees of suppliers for work from 2011-13.

The FTC fined Kepco 11.1 billion won.

The Korea Expressway Corporation was found to have contracted for highway safety checks with a private company established by a former employee. It was fined 1.9 billion won.

Korail helped its subsidiary Korail Networks by leasing it land at an unfairly low price, the FTC said.

Korea National Oil was found to have delayed paying compensation to subcontractors.

“The commission decided to strictly punish the public corporations that intended to maximize their profits by committing unfair practices,” said Kim Jae-jung, director general at the FTC. “We are going to conclude investigations on allegations of unfair trade by the Korea Land and Housing Corporation, Korea Water Resources Corporation and Korea District Heating Corporation in the near future.”

Kepco acknowledged its violations on Thursday and pledged to correct unfair practices.

BY SONG SU-HYUN [ssh@joongang.co.kr]

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