Mr. Drago Kos, Chair of the OECD Working Group on Bribery
“We are keeping on our eyes about possibility for South Korean companies commit corrupt practices in overseas.”
When he heard that most of the South Korean media request for merciful judgement for 'Chaebols', he said “Are you kidding me?”
“When the judgments about the difference between the first and the second trial are inadequate, Republic of Korea may face criticism from the international community.
Prohibiting corrupt businessmen from managing corporations is a global trend… Legalization is required”
The issue about the impact on corruption of Chaebol’s Emperor Management’ may cause disputes
Globally common such as ‘Regulating Grafts to Public Officials’ by the Kim Young-ran Act
Regarding the controversial issue about ‘tolerance’ about the difference of judgments between the first and the second trial of the Samsung bribery case, Mr. Drago Kos, Chair of the OECD Working Group on Bribery said that “The OECD considers it as a very important issue and is reviewing the reasons for the difference of the judgments. He emphasized that “Republic of Korea has to improve its law enforcement to eradicate corruption.” Also, he brought up the necessity of that legalization in Republic of Korea by saying that “Many countries prohibit corrupt businessmen from managing corporations by laws.”
Hankyoreh met Mr. Kos, an international anti-corruption expert, after the 2018 Fair Player Club Summit & Pledge Ceremony which was held on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, at Grand Ballroom, Grand Hyatt Seoul, Seoul, Republic of Korea. This Summit was hosted by UN Global Compact Network Korea for disseminating anti-corruption movements and supported by World Bank, Siemens, Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE), Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission (ACRC). The OECD Working Group on Bribery monitors corruption status and anti-corruption efforts of 44 OECD member states including Republic of Korea and publishes reports including recommendations by country.
In the "2017 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)" announced by the International Transparency International (TI), Republic of Korea marked its score as 53 out of 100 and ranked as the 51st, the lowest level (the 29th among the 35 OECD countries). Mr. Kos said about this result that “It is a subjective perception survey, so it may be different from the actual situation. The Presidential corruption case last year could affect the result.” He continues to say that “Republic of Korea is a country that is not severely corrupt in general. 76% of South Koreans said that the government did not make enough efforts to fight corruption. It was the highest response rate among Asia-Pacific countries. However, to the question of ‘Have you ever given bribes last year?’, only 3% of South Koreans answered, which was the second lowest from Japan (0.2%), lower than Australia (4%) and China (26%)”.
Regarding the view of the international society about manipulating government affairs and the unsound tie between politics and business of Republic of Korea, Mr. Kos said highly that “Corruption at the highest level of power often occurs in other countries too. The more important thing is how to react and address if a case happens. Republic of Korea proves that anyone who violates the law will be punished”.
Regarding the controversial issue about ‘tolerance’ when Lee Jae-yong, Vice Chairman of Samsung, received a sentence of five years in prison on the charge of bribery in the 1st trial and was released on probation in the 2nd trial, Mr. Drago Kos, Chair of the OECD Working Group on Bribery said that “The OECD is reviewing the reasons for the difference of the judgments. If there are no persuading reasons, Republic of Korea may face criticism. The international community may concern that the Korean judiciary might make a same tolerance ruling when a bribery case of a South Korean company occurs in a foreign country. It is the same reason why the 2014 OECD report urged better improvement of fair and substantial law enforcement to Republic of Korea is needed.”
Mr. Kos said that “South Korean companies (which were involved in the bribery case such as Samsung) might not be much affected immediately in the global economy, things would change if the new and more stringent anti-corruption standards which are prepared by the OECD are adopted.” He warned that “Foreign governments are keeping their eyes on the possibility that South Korean companies may commit their corruption activities that they did in South Korea in overseas too.” He also said that “There are four ranks categorizing the level of law enforcement by country. U.S., UK, Germany, and Switzerland belong to the highest rank. Republic of Korea belongs to the 3rd rank. The bribery case can result in a disappointing result that Republic of Korea can’t go up to the 2nd rank”.
Regarding the reason for the corruption by Korean companies, Mr. Kos said that “Due to competitive market situation among companies. It is important to have confidence that the cleaner a company is, the better economic performance come out. Regarding the impact of Chaebol's emperor management on corporate corruption which exercises absolute authority, he talked about that “Other countries often have family-owned management companies that do not follow integrity principles. OECD knows a characteristic of Korean large companies can become the factor promoting corruption. It will be a major issue related with Republic of Korea in the future”.
Regarding the issue of management continuation by a business tycoon under judicial sanctions, Mr. Kos said that “Many countries regulate by law so that corrupt management officials can’t remain in place. I am frankly surprised about absence of such law in Republic of Korea and why the board and shareholders do not ask corrupt executives to step down from the management”. When he heard that most of the South Korean media request for merciful judgement for 'Chaebols' which commit crimes due to the vacuum of management, he replied “Are you kidding me?” He emphasized that “I believe Republic of Korea can find the competent executives which could replace corrupt executives. Risks of damages of corporate images and strengthened social surveillance can be far bigger when corruption management stays than the business interests”.
Mr. Kos said about the controversy surrounding the introduction of the Improper Solicitation and Graft Act (Kim Young-ran Law) that “Such regulation is not unusual but normal in the world. However, there are more countries that regulate by the code of conduct rather than by law”.