Samsung faces deceptive advertising charges in France after activists target corporate pledge

Activist groups accuse Samsung factories of using underage labor. (Reuters)
Updated 03 July 2019

Samsung faces deceptive advertising charges in France after activists target corporate pledge

  • Samsung Electronics is the world’s largest maker of smartphones

PARIS: The French subsidiary of Samsung Electronics is facing charges of deceptive marketing over its corporate ethics pledges after local activists complained that the smartphone giant’s practices in its factories, including the use of underage labor, violated human rights, two NGOs said Wednesday.

The preliminary charges were lodged in April against the South Korean firm by a Paris investigating magistrate following a complaint by two French activist groups: Sherpa and ActionAid France — Peuples Solidaires.

The complaint directly to the investigating magistrate circumvents prosecutors, who declined to pursue similar complaints by activists.

“This is the first time in France that it was recognized that corporate ethics pledges may be considered marketing practices that are binding on a firm,” the activist groups said.

In their complaint filed in June 2018, a copy of which was viewed by AFP, the groups accused Samsung of not respecting the ethics pledges it makes on its website.

Samsung declares on its website that in addition to complying with local laws and regulations it is also committed to applying a strict global code of conduct and practicing ethical management.

“We respect the basic human rights of all people. Forced labor, wage exploitation and child slavery are not allowed under any circumstances,” Samsung said on its website.

The activists argued that as the corporate ethics pledge was available to French consumers, the nation’s justice system was competent to handle the criminal complaint.

Based on reports by non-governmental organizations that visited Samsung factories in China, South Korea and Vietnam, the activist groups alleged that the firm was employing children under the age of 16.

They also alleged that the firm practiced abusive working hours, that housing and labor conditions failed to meet basic conditions of human dignity, and put workers in danger.

Samsung was not immediately available to comment.


South Korea seeks arrest of Samsung heir in succession probe

Updated 48 min 53 sec ago

South Korea seeks arrest of Samsung heir in succession probe

  • Jay Y. Lee faces a return to jail just a little over two years after being released from detention

SEOUL: South Korean prosecutors have requested an arrest warrant against Samsung Group heir Jay Y. Lee, they said on Thursday, in the investigation of a controversial 2015 merger and alleged accounting fraud in a suspected bid to aid his succession plans.
The move spells fresh trouble for Lee, who, if arrested, faces a return to jail just a little over two years after being released from detention in February 2018.
Lee already faces trial on a charge of bribery aimed at winning support to succeed ailing group patriarch Lee Kun-hee, and which involved former President Park Geun-hye, and spent a year in detention until the bribery case was suspended in 2018.
Prosecutors said they sought Lee’s arrest on suspicions of stock price manipulation and audit rule violations, among other offenses.
In a statement, Lee’s lawyers expressed “deep regret” at the prosecution’s decision to seek his arrest, adding that he had fully cooperated with the investigation while Samsung was going through management crises.
Prosecutors have been investigating suspected accounting fraud at drug company Samsung Biologics after the Korean financial watchdog complained the firm’s value had been inflated by $3.7 billion in 2015.
Prosecutors contend the violation helped boost the value of its major owner, Cheil Industries, which counted Lee as its top shareholder, and merged with Samsung C&T, a de facto holding firm, Yonhap news agency said.
Samsung requested an outside review of the investigation to weigh the validity of the indictment and the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office is following the necessary procedures, it said in a statement.
Last month, prosecutors questioned Lee, 51, over the latest investigation. He also apologized for a series of controversies around his succession planning.
Lee’s year in detention followed separate charges that he bribed Park to win government support for the 2015 merger which helped tighten his control of South Korea’s top conglomerate.