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Samsung exec found to own Swiss account under company address

An incumbent executive at a Samsung Group unit has been found to hold a secret Swiss bank account opened under the address of the group's old headquarters in Seoul, an independent online news outlet reported Thursday.

Kim Hyung-do, an executive at Samsung Heavy Industries Co., has held an account with HSBC in Switzerland since 1993, with some $190,000 deposited between 2006 and 2007, according to Newstapa, which is run by the Korea Center for Investigative Journalism.

Newstapa said the address of the account holder was that of Samsung Group's headquarters before it moved to the current Gangnam office. 

But the given name of the account holder was spelled as "Hynug-do" instead of "Hyung-do", which the news outlet said it believes to be a typo. 

Newstapa suspected that Samsung could have borrowed Kim's name to hide one of the group's several slush funds. Samsung, South Korea's top conglomerate, is controlled by Lee Kun-hee, who has been hospitalized since last May after suffering a heart attack.

Kim had been working as a manager at Samsung Electronics Co., the group's crown jewel, in 1993, before he was transferred to the control tower and finance team, the news outlet claimed. After he was promoted to the executive level, he spent several more years at Samsung Electronics and Cheil Industries Co., the de facto holding company of Samsung.

In response to Newstapa's report, Kim initially told the online media outlet that he wasn't aware of the bank account, but later claimed that he inherited it from his father.

But he failed to clarify why he used the company's main office address and hasn't modified it if it was his personal account, only saying, "I don't know, I have never considered it."

Samsung's media team said it was Kim's private account and "has nothing to do with the company," according to the news outlet.

The report on the Samsung executive's Swiss account is the latest in a series of Newstapa's stories on suspected secret funds owned by high-profile Koreans in tax havens, which the KCIJ has pursued in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

In 2013, the news outlet revealed a list of shell companies in tax havens created by big-name Korean business leaders, including Choi Eun-young, the former chairwoman of Hanjin Shipping Holdings Co. (Yonhap)

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