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Ex-Oxy chief denies allegations over toxic sterilizer

All Headlines 18:14 August 24, 2016

SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) -- The CEO of Google Korea, who formerly headed the local unit of Reckitt Benckiser, on Wednesday denied allegations he was aware the firm's humidifier sterilizer could pose serious health risks.

During the first hearing held at the Seoul Central District Court, John Lee's legal representative said he was not aware that the necessary safety checks were not completed.

The legal representative also denied that Lee ignored reports from the company's researcher that the sterilizer should not be advertised as "safe for children" and continued using the phrase.

The humidifier disinfectant case, one of the worst scandals involving a consumer product using chemicals, came to light after four pregnant women died of lung problems from unknown causes in 2011.

A government-led investigation confirmed a connection between people who died of lung problems and the chemicals used to clean household humidifiers.

Lee headed the company from 2005 to 2010 when sales of the problematic sterilizer peaked, according to prosecutors.

Last week, the government said it has confirmed 35 additional victims of the toxic products, including 17 deaths. The total number of victims confirmed by the government rose to 256.

Prosecutors suspect the humidifier sanitizer made by Oxy Reckitt Benckiser alone killed 73 and injured 108 others.

The number of victims is likely to increase as the government started receiving another set of applications in April. A total of 2,961 cases have been filed as of Aug. 11.


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