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Controversial Book Claims Samsung Is Basically the Most Corrupt Company In Asia

Illustration for article titled Controversial Book Claims Samsung Is Basically the Most Corrupt Company In Asia

Bribes, prosecutors on the take, tax evasion and slush funds. It sounds like organized crime, but if we're to believe Kim Yong-chul, author of Think Samsung, all these terrible things happen at popular electronics company Samsung. All the time.

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Trouble for Kim (former top legal counsel, Samsung) is Samsung is not only the largest electronics company by revenue in the world, it's also one of the most—in the words of the New York Times—sacrosanct in South Korea. Untouchables, indeed.

This is a big part of the reason why no real media outlet or web site has reviewed Think Samsung, and why the one publication that has "reviewed" the book decided not to mention the book or the author by name.

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In any event, the allegations put forth in the book are unbelievable; the amount of money changing hands staggering:

Mr. Kim accused [Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee] and his loyal aides of having stolen as much as 10 trillion won, or $9 billion, from Samsung subsidiaries and stashed it in stock and bank accounts illegally opened in the names of executives.

The book alleges that they shredded books, fabricated evidence and bribed politicians, bureaucrats, prosecutors, judges and journalists, mainly to ensure that they would not stand in the way of Mr. Lee's illegal transfer of corporate control to his only son, Lee Jae-yong, 41.

Even without the media's help, Kim's book has enjoyed moderate success in South Korea, thanks mostly to Twitter and other online outlets. The success has come at a price however, as most of Kim's friends and acquaintances have pretty much abandoned him. He spends most of time these days organzing Samsung boycotts. [New York Times, Image: NYT]

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DISCUSSION

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I remember writing a paper on South Korea's economy, and this type of abuse was sort of characteristic in their major corps (chebols is the term I think) cause after the Korean War the government was very hands on in making sure they developed properly so it was easy for private and public sector to overlap and there was a vested interest in making sure the companies succeeded for the good of the national economy no matter what.

Of course that isn't that unique of a situation compared to many other countries. And like someone bellow said, Asia generally can be a very shady place for business.

My family's small business in Thailand is in a comparatively unsexy and marginal industry yet we know companies/people who used prostitutes and hitmen to further their interests.