Korean lawyers slap Samsung with fine for obstructing justice

Samsung has, once again, been a bad boy. Not content with allegedly fleecing customers and claiming people are following its head honchos, the company is now angering the powerful forces at the South Korean Fair Trade Commission (FTC). 

It’s been slapped with a $355,000 (400 million won) fine for purposely interfering with an FTC investigation into mobile phone price rigging. The fine, which also reflects the frequency of the obstructions, is said to be the largest of its kind in an investigation such as this.

The building raid was in relation to an investigation that Samsung, LG, Pantech and mobile operators SK Telecom, KT Corp and LG Uplus had got all way too cosy and plotted together to mark up the prices of mobile phone handsets.

They were issued with a combined fine of $40.1 million (45.3 billion won), with the FTC claiming the cosy little group plotted together to mark up the prices of mobile phone handsets.

Samsung got itself in hot water after head honchos at the company apparently ordered their security staff to block and delay five FTC officials from entering the company’s Suwon site in Gyeonggi.

The security staff refused entry on the basis that FTC officials didn’t have prior permission. They claimed that even the president of the country would need this to enter the building.  However, all was not well within the building. Whilst the security officers were delaying officials, Samsung’s wireless top dogs were apparently demanding employees to discard incriminating data and get rid of PCs that held information that may not have been very favourable to the company.

Another Samsung exec also purposely wormed his way out of being interviewed when the FTC tried to call him, claiming he had a business trip in Seoul. In fact the company obstructed the watchdog so well that when it managed to get in there everyone had scarpered – presumably through a back door.

According to the Joongang Daily, the only employee in the office also refused to be interviewed and had allegedly deleted all the files on his computer, which the FTC later discovered related to SK Telecom – one of the companies in the cartel that had worked with Samsung to fleece customers. Allegedly.

But Samsung’s devious plans didn’t end there. The FTC also found, through trawling through internal data and CCTV footage, that what little data it got hold of was manipulated and that security had been stepped up further.

There’s no escaping those government officials,  Samsung.