South Korea: KFTC gives up exclusive right to file cases

The South Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) has agreed to give up its exclusive rights to file complaints about antitrust cases, such as price collusion or supply restriction. Accordingly, such antitrust cases can also be directly investigated by the prosecution instead of the nation’s corporate overseer.

The agreement was made Tuesday, August 21, between KFTC Chairman Kim Sang-jo and Justice Minister Park Sang-ki. It is the first time for the KFTC to give up its rights since the introduction of the Fair Trade Act in 1980.

Currently, the prosecution can take an antitrust case to the court only when asked by the KFTC, which has exclusive rights over antitrust cases.

While it aims at protecting businesses from a flood of lawsuits by individuals and civic groups that may hinder their operation, there have been growing calls that the doors should be open wider since such restriction leads to poor protection of consumer rights.

The KFTC’s monopoly of such rights also prompted businesses to hire former officials, in a bid to avoid penalties using their connections with the KFTC.

The corrupt ties led to the worst job scandal in KFTC history, with a number of its former and current officials, including former KFTC Chairman Jeong Jae-chan and his deputy Kim Hack-hyun, being indicted for allegedly pressuring conglomerates to offer cushy jobs for its retirees between 2012 and last year.

The KFTC chairman said that its monopoly of such rights, coupled with unfair execution, was a fundamental cause of the job scandal.

Full Content: The Korea Herald

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