Ahn’s past record on corporate ethics causes stir

Ahn Cheol-soo

Ahn Cheol-soo, a Seoul National University professor, was under criticism Monday for his past joining of the campaign to save an embattled business tycoon who was put behind bars for fraud.

His past record drew criticism as the potential presidential hopeful’s emphasis on corporate ethics revealed in a newly released book, dubbed “Thoughts of Ahn Cheol-soo,” contradicts what he had done in the past.

In April 2003, Ahn was one of the start-up business leaders who signed up for the campaign to save Chey Tae-won, chairman of SK Group, when he was serving a jail term for fraud.

At that time, Ahn was one of the members of V-Society, a fraternity of renowned leaders of conglomerates and start-up businesses.

His past activity defies what Ahn called for in his recent book. In the new book, the 50-year-old said if a business leader seeks profits at the expense of shareholders’ interests, this could constitute a crime. “(Conglomerates’ ethically-flawed business practices) are subject to legal punishment. The problem is that the law enforcement authorities have not applied the rule to punish corporate leaders,” he said.

Ahn also toned up for economic justice and ethical management.

An aide to Ahn admitted the double-standard allegation.

In a press release, Yoo Min-young, a publicist for Ahn, said the Seoul National University professor admitted that his signing up for the campaign eight years ago was inappropriate.

“It is true that conglomerates have a critical role in making Korea achieve what the nation has been today. But their contribution was not on par with what they can afford to,” it said. “Regardless of their socio-economic status, those who violated the law should be punished according to the seriousness of their violations.” <The Korea Times/Kang Hyun-kyung>


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