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KFTC Investigators to Have Search and Seizure Rights

Posted May. 10, 2005 23:22,   


The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) has decided to proceed with a plan to qualify an investigator as a judicial police officer or give an investigator the right to seize and search in order to prevent companies from obstructing an investigation process.

Regarding the above mentioned matter, the financial circle is raising its voice against the measure by insisting that the KFTC is forcibly trying to expand its powers on the grounds that some companies interfere with investigation procedures.

On May 10, the KFTC announced that in the wake of the disturbance in its investigation caused by the Samsung Total Corporation, it arranged a comprehensive measure designed to strengthen punishment for the company that obstructs an investigation process and reinforces a KFTC investigator’s authority.

First, the KFTC decided to newly establish a provision that allows for prosecuting a businessman or a staff member who forcibly takes evidence or material from an investigator or destroys it in the Fair Trade Law category.

In addition, in order to enhance the efficiency of investigations into cartels (collective action), the KFTC agreed to discuss a plan that vests an investigator with rights to act as a judicial police official with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).

Kang Dae-hyung, secretary general of the KFTC, said that despite years of discussion with the MOJ, it hasn’t yet concluded the above matter, explaining that it would consult with the MOJ about basing the above matter on the Fair Trade Law as it is all right to only guarantee the rights to seize and search among other jurisdiction powers of a judicial police official.

In separate case, the KFTC settled a plan in which it will watch over the activity of a company that deliberately interfered with an investigation after labeling it as a subject of an intense monitoring for three years.

Also, the KFTC has decided to fine companies up to 20 percent until the charges against the company are confirmed to be a violation of the law, if the staff of a company disturb an investigation.

However, the financial circle showed a defiant response by noting that taking an isolated incident that happened in the case of some companies, the KFTC’s intention to seize and search all the companies went too far when a system capable of imposing a large fine on companies in case of obstruction by a company is in place.

Lee Seung-cheol, the deputy general director of the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), said that the KFTC has a variety of jurisdiction powers, including a right to investigate one’s official authority, a right to restrain a person in case of his or her refusal to participate in an investigation, and a system to promote whistle blowing, and that it is unfair to introduce the right of judicial police officer powers in an investigation into cartels, which is almost never urgent.

Chi-Young Shin higgledy@donga.com