Posted January. 26, 2005 23:09,
It was revealed that a Kia Motors personnel department official as well as the labor union was involved in the bribery scandal concerning employment at the companys Gwangju plant.
The investigation team charged with the corruption case (headed by Lee Gwang-hyung) at the Gwangju District Public Prosecutors Office (DPPO), on January 26, rushed to arrest Na, a personnel official at Kias Gwangju plant, for receiving 45 million won from an employee at one of Kias affiliates with a request for a favor in the matter of employment. The investigators are questioning him.
Earlier on the same day, the prosecution urgently arrested a member of Hyundai Mobis, another affiliate of Hyundai and Kia Motors, on the charge of soliciting 100 million won in exchange for employment from four to five people, snatching half of the money, and then giving 45 million won to Na. The prosecution requested a warrant for the detention of the Hyungdai Mobis worker on the suspicion of illegal mediation and bribery.
The investigation team concluded that some of the bribe Na received might have found its way to the higher-ups of the personnel department, and began looking for more people involved in the scam.
The prosecution said that it got hold of some personnel-related materials that list the names of the people who recommended candidates for employment to Kia, and that it is looking for clues in those materials. The list has detailed records of candidates social security numbers, recommenders, interviews, passing marks and other information. The recommenders include officials of the labor union and Kia, the Gwangju Regional Ministry of Labors labor inspector, a human resources counselor at the District Office, and an official of the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs.
Deputy Chief Prosecutor Kim Sang-bong at the Gwangju DPPO said, We are using the list with the names of recommenders to find out who were bribed in return for employment. But recommendations alone do not constitute a crime. So we will not carry out an investigation on everyone who had ever supported an employment candidate.
In response to the scandal, Kia Motors issued a press release and explained, Recommendations for employment are a long-standing practice in advanced countries. Recommending scholars, dignitaries and talented people to companies is one of the natural and rightful duties to ones society. Some personal scandals are distorting the meaning and nature of recommendations.
Meanwhile, the Central Investigation Department of the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office told the press, Prosecutor General Song Kwang-soo ordered more thorough investigations, and from January 25 on, the Central Investigation Department will take charge of the whole process which has been carried out by the Gwangju DPPO under the supervision of the Criminal Department.
The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions held a press conference at its headquarters in Youngdeungpo-gu, Seoul and apologized, saying, Officials of labor unions cherish integrity very much. So the fact that a union official is entangled in this scandal cannot be justified. We make our heartfelt apologies to the general public.