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Corruption scandal Swiss tax authorities asked to probe Korean steel firm POSCO

POSCO logo at their HQ

POSCO is the world's fourth largest steel producer by output

(Keystone)

Swiss authorities have received requests for information concerning potential secret Swiss bank accounts linked to POSCO. The Korean multinational was probed in the past for making payments at the behest of a close friend of ousted former Korean President Park Geun-hye, who was implicated in a corruption scandal. 

The Swiss Federal Tax Administration published a noticeexternal link in the Federal Gazette on Tuesday with a view to informing a POSCO subsidiary - POSCO Engineering and Construction - of a request for information on potential Swiss accounts linked to them. 

The company has come under scrutiny in the past over alleged donations made by POSCO to sports foundations at the request of Choi Soon-sil, a close friend of the first female president of South Korea Park Geun-hye. 

According to standard procedure, POSCO has ten days to name a Swiss representative to receive the notifications. The company can also appeal against the final decision of the Swiss Federal Tax Administration regarding whether to share information on the financial transactions.  

Former POSCO chairman Kwon Oh-joon, who was asked to give a statement as a witness in Choi’s trial in 2014, said that he had agreed to set up the sports foundations at Choi’s behest but did so under pressure, according to Korean press reportsexternal link.  

Other Korean companies like Samsung and Lotte were also implicated in similar dealings. The resulting scandal led to the impeachment of President Park with the court handing her a 24-year jail sentence and a KRW18 billion (CHF15.9 million) fine in April for colluding to benefit her friend Choi. Park has denied all charges of wrongdoing. 

Kwon had announced his resignation from POSCO in April much ahead of his scheduled departure in March 2020. There is speculation that his resignation was due to government pressure, as former POSCO chairmen have been replaced when a new administration comes into power.

swissinfo.ch/ac

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