April 18, 2024

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KT under fire for hiring former prosecutors

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From left are Lee Yong-bok, Choo Eui-jeung and Hur Tae-won, former prosecutors hired recently as KT executives. Courtesy of KT, Korean Bar Association

From left are Lee Yong-bok, Choo Eui-jeung and Hur Tae-won, former prosecutors hired recently as KT executives. Courtesy of KT, Korean Bar Association

By Park Jae-hyuk

KT is facing backlash from the union and the main opposition party, as the telecommunication firm hired three more former prosecutors recently as senior executives, amid the ongoing investigation into alleged irregularities involving former CEO Ku Hyeon-mo, according to industry officials, Thursday.

Critics point out that the company appears to be trying to please the administration led by President Yoon Suk Yeol, a former prosecutor general who had only worked as a prosecutor in his 27-year career before presidency, except for a year at a law firm from 2002 to 2003.

“After assuming the positions of the president, the ruling party’s interim leader and the broadcast watchdog chief, former prosecutors are now taking up important posts of companies,” Rep. Jo Seoung-lae of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea said Thursday. “I would advise KT and other companies to fear consumers, users and the market, instead of prosecutors.”

One of KT’s multiple unions also issued a statement, Wednesday, denouncing the company’s hiring of former prosecutors as an attempt to protect CEO Kim Young-shub. He was appointed last August, as the National Pension Service (NPS) hindered neither Ku nor Yun Kyung-lim, head of the group transformation division, who was regarded as Ku’s close aide, from leading KT. Although KT was privatized in 2002, the government has meddled with its management through the state pension fund, the telecommunication firm’s largest shareholder.

KT CEO Kim Young-shub / Courtesy of KT

KT CEO Kim Young-shub / Courtesy of KT

The union claimed that the management ignored concerns raised last November, when lawyer Lee Yong-bok was hired as a vice president to lead KT’s legal affairs department. He served as a prosecutor from 1992 to 2008 and worked for the special counsel that investigated former President Park Geun-hye in 2017.

“Choo Eui-jeung, the first female prosecutor at the special investigation department of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, was appointed to lead internal audits, and Hur Tae-won, who investigated various cases under the Lee Myung-bak administration, was appointed to lead the company’s pursuance of compliance management,” the union said. “Hiring of former prosecutors close to the president can only enable the CEO to protect himself without reforming KT.”

After serving as a prosecutor from 2006 to 2022, Choo worked at law firm Lee & Ko for about a year. Hur served as a prosecutor from 2004 to 2012 and worked at several law firms.

KT explained that the former prosecutors are renowned legal experts, who are expected to help the company enhance compliance management and cope with various legal issues.


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