Major firms skip lobby group board meeting

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Major firms skip lobby group board meeting

The Federation of Korean Industries, a big business lobbying group beset by controversy for its role in the corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye, held a board meeting Friday morning that ended in vain after most of the group’s key conglomerate members skipped the session.

The closed-door meeting was supposed to be a routine annual event to discuss agenda items like potential successors to the current chairman, Huh Chang-soo, whose term expires this month, and the group’s budget for the year.

But ever since the organization was found to play a key role in forcing conglomerates to donate nearly 80 billion won ($70 million) to foundations run by President Park’s secretive confidante Choi Soon-sil, ostensibly in return for political favors, the fate of the lobbying group has been thrown into question. Three of the country’s four biggest conglomerates have already withdrawn their membership, making Friday’s meeting a fruitless affair. Their contributions to the Federation of Korean Industries usually accounted for over 70 percent of annual fees collected by the group.

Not a single representative from the 10 biggest conglomerates was present at the meeting, raising the possibility that more members may withdraw. The negative sentiment turned many conglomerate heads away from the chairman position. “Nothing was discussed during the meeting,” said one attendee.

Samsung Group, SK Group and LG Group have officially withdrawn from the group. Hyundai Motor Group, the only remaining top-four member, has not officially left, but it has stopped paying its annual fee to the group.

Among the Federation of Korean Industries’ 600 members, around 110 are part of the board members. The Friday meeting was reportedly attended by just 50 members.

A shareholders meeting scheduled for Friday will still go on as planned.


BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]
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