FTC to decide on disciplinary action on Kakao by year end

2022.11.15 10:03:01

Han Ki-jeong, head of the Fair Trade Commission [Provided by Yonhap]이미지 확대

Han Ki-jeong, head of the Fair Trade Commission [Provided by Yonhap]

South Korea’s antitrust agency will decide whether to take disciplinary action against the country’s information technology giant Kakao Corp. for its alleged favoritism and violation of the separation law of industrial and financial capital.

“We will deliberate and decide any law-violating activity before the end of this year in an incident in which a platform business group has exercised voting rights in affiliates through financial units,” said Han Ki-jeong, head of the Fair Trade Commission, Monday, during his first meeting with reporters since taking office in September.

Han was referring to a case in which K Cube Holdings, a financial firm wholly owned by Kim Beom-su, Kakao founder and head of Kakao Future Initiative Center, exercised voting rights in non-financial company Kakao.

Kim is suspected of submitting false data in relation to the case, which in such case, the FTC could charge him to prosecution.

[Provided by Yonhap]이미지 확대

[Provided by Yonhap]

The antitrust agency also plans to review a case involving Kakao Mobility allegedly favoring its franchise taxi Kakao T Blue over other taxis franchises by assigning calls through its Kakao T application. The FTC plans to launch deliberation on the case and decide disciplinary action no later than early next year.

The review will focus on whether Kakao, a platform operator, abused monopoly to favor its own franchise taxis or products and services and restricted multi-homing, or use of competing platform services.

Han noted that the FTC will carry out stern investigation and impose sanctions against any unfair activity and profit-taking practices by business groups. He added that the agency will continue to keep a close eye on any unfair internal trade cases.

The FTC also plans to deliberate sanctions on Nexon Korea’s alleged manipulation of probability-type items in MapleStory.

The FTC under Han will also monitor closely on any technology exploitation to establish fair trade base for small- and mid-size enterprises. The amount of technology exploitation reached 280 billion won ($211 million) in recent five years, said Han.

“We will intensify technology exploitation exposure and improve system to allow proper aid to any damages,” Han added.

By Lee Jin-han and Lee Eun-joo

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