FTC vows not to meddle in careers of former staff

By Shin Ji-hye

Private meetings between incumbents and retirees to be prohibited

  • Published : Aug 20, 2018 - 15:39
  • Updated : Aug 20, 2018 - 17:05

Fair Trade Commission chief Kim Sang-jo vowed Monday that the FTC would never be involved in the recruitment process of its retirees amid an ongoing investigation by prosecutors into the FTC’s top officials accused of forcing conglomerates to hire its retirees.

Twelve of the antitrust watchdog’s incumbent and former executives, including former chief Jeong Jae-chan, were accused of abusing their investigative power to force companies to hire FTC retirees.

“The FTC will never be involved in retirees’ recruitment for any reason,” said Kim Sang-jo at a press briefing Monday morning, announcing its management shake-up.

“We will establish strict human-resources principles to forestall suspicion related to retirees’ recruitment,” he added.

Fair Trade Commission chief Kim Sang-jo listens to a question from a journalist after announcing the FTC’s management shake-up Monday at the Sejong Government Complex. (Yonhap)

The accused FTC officials allegedly forced 16 conglomerates to recruit a total of 17 retirees from 2012. The companies -- including Samsung Electronics, Samsung C&T, Samsung Card, Kia Motors, Hyundai Engineering & Construction, SK hynix and KT -- allegedly paid a total of 7.6 billion won ($6.7 million) to the retirees in wages. Some of the retirees were paid without even going to work.

As the corruption scandal rocks the FTC, concerns have been raised over whether the antitrust authority is qualified to push for reformation of conglomerates and eradicate their unfair business practices.

To ease such worries, the FTC on Monday unveiled plans regarding the handling of its retirees.

The FTC said private meetings between incumbent employees and retirees will be completely prohibited, regardless of the reason. In addition, when retirees find jobs, their career records will be open to the public on the government website for 10 years following retirement. 

Kim said that because the alleged corruption related to recruitment is partly attributed to the FTC’s monopoly of authority in law enforcement, the commission will seek legislation to to decentralize its authority through a complete overhaul of the nation’s fair trade law, which will soon be announced.

“We will abolish the exclusive right to charge businesses and decentralize the authority (to the prosecutors) in order to adopt competition in the enforcement of fair trade laws,” Kim said.

Abolishing the monopoly over the right to charge businesses is regarded as key in the overhaul of the nation’s fair trade law.

In the current system, prosecutors can begin an investigation only when there is an accusation from the FTC in the areas of violation of fair trade laws, such as price fixing.

Prosecutors had said that the FTC’s exclusive right to charge should be abolished and prosecutors should have their investigation power expanded.
There had been speculation that the ongoing investigation into the FTC officials over retirees’ recruitment stemmed from the FTC’s refusal to allow prosecutors to charge fair trade cases on their own, although Kim officially denied such rumors.

Kim and Justice Minister Park Sang-ki are slated to attend a ceremony Tuesday to sign an agreement to end the FTC’s monopoly over the right to charge businesses.

By Shin Ji-hye(