|Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Kim Ki-nam, center, signs agreements to make sure the company-launched anti-corruption committee functions, independently, during the signing event held in its main technology compound in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province. On Kim's left is Samsung Electronics president Kim Hyun-seok and to his right is the company's mobile boss Ko Dong-jin, Monday. Yonhap|
By Kim Yoo-chul
Top management at Samsung Electronics vowed to properly and independently operate the newly-launched anti-corruption committee.
Just a few days after the company named former Supreme Court Justice, Kim Ji-hyung, as leader of the commission, top Samsung executives signed the agreement to fight corruption, monitor and eradicate all illegal activities. The event was held at Samsung's main technology compound in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, Monday.
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Kim Ki-nam and two company co-CEOs including its consumer electronics chief Kim Hyun-seok and mobile boss Ko Dong-jin attended the event.
"We arranged the event to send a clear message to Samsung employees that there can be no compromise for any illegal activities. Therefore, all paid Samsung employees should comply with a set of guidelines as part of the transparency principle," Samsung Electronics said in a press release. "No decisions or activities that go against the company-set principles and relevant laws will be permitted," it added.
The agreements include the specifics which mandate employees at Samsung Electronics and other affiliates comply with relevant laws and company principles and report breaches of the law to the committee if any allegations concern anyone in a top management role. But the agreements neither stated who will be held accountable for any wrongdoings nor how protection will be provided to whistleblowers.
Top management at Samsung's other affiliates ― Samsung Electro-Mechanics, Samsung SDS and Samsung C&T ― joined the move. Also, top management at Samsung SDI, Samsung Life Insurance and Samsung Fire and Marine Insurance will receive an official mandate.
The seven Samsung affiliates will cooperate with the committee on various aspects to make sure the body operates effectively.
As Samsung leader Lee Jae-yong's trial approaches, the committee chief told reporters that the body will look "very closely" into a wide range of issues affecting the group's transparency including corruption, labor issues and even management succession, with greater independence and autonomy. The committee chief clarified he will do this as the group leader Lee gave him "full authorization" to proceed with committee-set tasks.
As the crucial April general election nears, the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) and Cheong Wa Dae aides were supporting the company's investment plans partly because economic initiatives are a key focus of President Moon Jae-in. The President visited Samsung facilities two times and congratulated the company on its efforts to move forward with investment plans.
It remains to be seen whether the launch of the committee will satisfy the local judge who asked the Samsung leader to come up with detailed plans to improve the company's management transparency and to show how it will be free from any external political influence.
But Samsung said the committee comprises seven members including two from civic groups, two from academia and one from Samsung Electronics ― former Samsung's communications chief Rhee In-yong. Sources inside Samsung said the company would review possibilities to help the committee access Samsung's internal documents if necessary, and added issues and concerns such as no legal binding authority under the Commercial Act would be addressed, thoughtfully and properly.