May 25, 2016

    Former CEO queried over deaths in S. Korea


    THE South Korean prosecution on Monday questioned former Oxy Reckitt Benckiser chief executive John Lee on charges of accidental manslaughter and injury as part of a widening probe into the humidifier disinfectant scandal.

    The 48-year-old Korean-American, who heads Goo-gle Korea, is suspected of not taking appropriate measures despite rising health complaints from users when he was leading the company from June 2005 to May 2010.

    Sales of Oxy Ssak Ssak reached a high during his term.

    "(The case) is very heartbreaking," Mr Lee said as he appeared at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office. "I will cooperate with the investigation."

    He is the first foreign national to be questioned as a suspect in the steriliser case that has resulted in at least 146 deaths recognised by the government. Last week, prosecutors questioned Ulrich Hosterbach, a finance director of Oxy - currently Reckitt Benckiser Korea - as a witness.

    The prosecution questioned Mr Lee on whether he knew about the harmfulness of the product and the reasons for failing to take measures despite the health complaints.

    They also looked into what and how much of a role the British headquarters played in decision-making over the product. The British headquarters owns 100 per cent of the Korean subsidiary.

    The investigators said they will decide on the charges against Mr Lee based on the evidence and questioning.