Samsung Group to be monitored independently

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Samsung Group to be monitored independently

A new organization that will monitor Samsung companies and their executives will be independent and autonomous, the chief of the soon-to-be established body promises.

Former Supreme Court Justice Kim Ji-hyung on Thursday introduced the new oversight panel and detailed the direction it will take when it begins its work in February.

“Independence and autonomy will be the key values of the body,” Kim said at a press event held in central Seoul on Thursday. “It will be operated independently from Samsung’s involvement.”

Kim said he met with Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong before agreeing to take the position, and he received Lee’s assurances that the surveillance body would be independent.

The surveillance body will engage in compliance monitoring and check for legal violations by the group’s executives. It will have seven members, including Kim, two professors, another lawyer, two members of civil societies and a Samsung Electronics adviser.

Samsung’s establishment of the panel comes after a Seoul High Court judge overseeing a case in which Lee was found guilty of bribery demanded in October that Samsung develop an internal system to assure that the group and its leaders follow relevant laws, regulations and business rules.

Lee’s bribery case, which involved illegal payments made during the Park Geun-hye administration, is being retried.

“It’s true Samsung’s sincerity is being questioned,” said Kim in regard to the establishment of the compliance body. “But cynical views toward Samsung are aimed at the executive officers, not the conglomerate itself. Only when executive officers change, will Samsung change.”

The surveillance body will sign an agreement with Samsung’s seven key companies and gain the approval at their board meetings before it is formally established.

The seven companies are Samsung Electronics, Samsung C&T, Samsung Life Insurance, Samsung SDI, Samsung Electro-Mechanics, Samsung SDS and Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance.

“When necessary, [the committee] will directly investigate cases of law violations,” said Kim, who vowed to function as a “law-abiding controller that monitors any risks of law violations.”

Kim said surveillance will not be limited. “Bribery, fair trade and graft, as well as issues related to labor unions and the succession of management, cannot be exempted from the subjects of surveillance.”

But he added that the committee will only deal with issues that occur following its establishment and will not examine the issues behind the establishment of the surveillance body.

The compliance program will be permanent, and it will receive support from the seven Samsung companies.

Civic groups on Thursday criticized the appointment of Kim.

These groups and the Samsung SVC union, protested in central Seoul. They said that Samsung’s appointment of Kim as the chief of the surveillance system is “deceitful,” as they claim he has been involved in anti-labor activities.

They also note that Kim ruled Lee Kun-hee was not guilty in a case involving the transfer of shares to Lee Jae-yong, his son, by issuing convertible bonds in Samsung’s Everland amusement park.

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]

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