SEOUL, Sept. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top 10 conglomerates slashed the amount of various donations they have made by 14.5 percent in the past two years, following the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye, a conglomerate research firm said Sunday.
Total contributions made by such big names as Samsung, Hyundai Motor, SK, LG and Lotte groups stood at a little over 838.1 billion won in 2017, down 124.9 billion won or a drop of 13 percent from the previous year, Chaebul.com said. In 2015, companies spent 980.2 billion won on donations.
It said legal action being taken against conglomerates that have been accused of offering Choi Soon-sil, the disgraced chief executive's longtime confidante, has caused many businesses to be extra careful in donating money. Choi is accused of forcing big conglomerates, including Samsung, to donate 77.4 billion won to two foundations under her control, with Park acting as an accomplice.
"Companies have stepped up efforts to make all donations transparent by going through due process and staying away from pledging money if there is a risk of causing trouble," the local tracker of large conglomerates said. It said numbers could shrink further this year.
It said before the scandal broke in 2016, companies tended to increase donations as part of their effort to give back to society.
Reflecting this, it said companies donated 347.2 billion won in the first half, less than half of last year's total.
Among groups, Samsung and GS groups slashed donations the most, with the former, which has been deeply implicated in the scandal cutting its donation pledges by 43.1 percent in two years from 532.4 billion won in 2015 to a little over 300 billion won last year.
GS' donations were off by 34.5 percent to slightly more than 5 billion won.
On the other hand, LG and SK increased their donations significantly to 83.5 billion won and 20.3 billion won, respectively, with Hanwha and Nonghyup all increasing the money they provided to good causes and programs.
Besides donations, the latest findings showed business meals and entertainment expenses paid by the top 10 dropped 15.6 percent in two years, as a result of the Kim Young-ran anti-graft law going into effect in September 2016.
In 2016, the companies spent over 56.6 billion won on entertainment outlays, with this falling to 47.2 billion won last year.
By group, numbers for Lotte dropped the sharpest at 37.9 percent in the cited period, with numbers for Samsung and Hanwha all dropping by more than 30 percent.
Of the largest conglomerates checked, only steelmaker POSCO and LG spent more on meals and entertainment last year compared with 2015.
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