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Oxy investigation widens to U.K. headquarters

Following Oxy Reckitt Benckiser’s first-ever public apology for its toxic humidifier disinfectant blamed for the loss of 103 lives, the prosecution said Friday that it will investigate related officials in the U.K.-based headquarters.

According to the special probe team, executives and researchers at the U.K. headquarters were found to have ordered the Seoul office to destroy evidence related to the toxicity of the disputed humidifier disinfectant.

The prosecution will closely look into emails exchanged between the Seoul bureau and the U.K. headquarters, as well as the documents used during their emergency meetings. 

Experts discuss the humidifier disinfectant blamed for the loss of over 140 lives, during a press conference in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)
Experts discuss the humidifier disinfectant blamed for the loss of over 140 lives, during a press conference in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)

It is also considering summoning executives in charge from the U.K. to question them on whether the headquarters had been aware of the product’s toxicity. 

Despite Oxy’s apology, victims’ families remain outraged at what they view as the firm’s stopgap measure to quell criticism and dodge legal sanctions.

“For five years, they have not once showed up to meet us. We refuse to accept such an insincere apology,” the victims’ families said in a statement made in front of the Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday.

They also voiced concerns over the purpose of Oxy’s fund. 

According to the Environment Ministry, a 5 billion-won fund donated by Oxy Reckitt Benckiser back in March 2014 still remains in the ministry-related institute’s bank account.

The supervising bureau responsible for the fund said the mediation committee was abolished nine months after its establishment.

“We could not handle the fund since the victims and their families refused to receive the money,” an official from the Korea Environmental Preservation Association told The Korea Herald. 

“Oxy Reckitt Benckiser provided the fund under condition that it should be dealt between Oxy, the ministry and the KEPA,” he added. 

Despite the lack of an acting body, the KEPA has been paying corporate tax every year for the remaining amount of funds.

By Kim Da-sol (ddd@heraldcorp.com)
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