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FKI to hold meeting of key groups despite low turnout

All News 09:10 January 12, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 12 (Yonhap) -- The Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) plans to hold a meeting of its key member companies later Thursday, but most of the firms are widely expected to miss the meeting because of a corruption scandal involving the business lobby that has made their chief executives subject to investigation.

The FKI also faces possible dissolution due to the scandal that involves President Park Geun-hye and her close friend Choi Soon-sil.

The scheduled meeting is a regular meeting of chief executives of some 20 key FKI member firms, including Samsung Group and Hyundai Motor Group, that is held every two months, according to FKI officials.

But Thursday's meeting, if held, will mark the first of its kind in four months as the November meeting had been called off due to low turnout.

The heads of the major conglomerates apparently stayed away from the meeting in the wake of the corruption scandal that later led to the parliamentary impeachment of the president.

The business leaders themselves have been subject to a series of prosecution summons and parliamentary hearings as their donations to two new sports foundations set up and controlled by Choi are now believed to have been bribes.

They insist their donations, totaling nearly 80 billion won (US$67.3 million), had been coerced by the president and her friend, but many, including prosecutors, believe the money may had been offered in exchange for business and political favors, such as a presidential pardon for some of the chief executives who were imprisoned at the time.

FKI to hold meeting of key groups despite low turnout - 1

Most of them were again expected to stay away from Thursday's FKI meeting that earlier sought to attract top executives of 18 largest groups.

The two largest conglomerates, Samsung and Hyundai Motor, have already expressed their intention to quit the business lobby, while several others, including LG Group and KT Group, have announced their withdrawal of membership as of end-2016.

More than half of the groups have already said their chief executives will not be attending Thursday's meeting, an informed source said, asking not to be identified.

"The firms must not have had any time to even consider the fate of the FKI as they themselves face equally serious problems," the source said.

Still, an FKI official said the meeting will likely be held as scheduled, partly because it will be the last to be hosted by outgoing FKI Chairman Huh Chang-soo, also the chairman of GS Group.

"The meeting will be a chance to listen to the views and opinions of other FKI members, rather than to make any decisions," the official said.

The FKI earlier said its fate will be decided at its general assembly to be held next month.


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