SEOUL, July 14 (Korea Bizwire) – The CEO of Google Korea who formerly headed the local unit of Oxy Reckitt Benckiser has been indicted over the British firm’s toxic humidifier sterilizers which resulted in numerous deaths and illnesses here, prosecutors said Thursday.
John Lee has been accused of playing a part in the deaths of 73 people and lung damage to another 108 victims, according to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. He headed the consumer goods company from 2005 to 2010 when sales of the problematic sterilizer peaked.
The Korean-American is also accused of fraud and violating the Act on Fair Labeling and Advertising.
Prosecutors suspect that Lee produced and sold the products without having them undergo proper health checks. He also allegedly ignored reports from the company’s researcher that the sterilizer should not be advertised as “safe for children” and went ahead with the phrase.
Prosecutors had earlier sought a warrant to formally arrest Lee, but the Seoul Central District Court dismissed the request, saying there is not enough reason or necessity to detain the suspect.
The humidifier disinfectant case, one of the worst scandals involving a consumer product using chemicals, came to light after four pregnant women died of lung problems from unknown causes in 2011. A government-led investigation confirmed a connection between people who died of lung problems and the chemicals used to clean household humidifiers.
Seoul prosecutors said they have been interrogating related government officials since last week to see if they are responsible for failing to stop the consumer goods maker’s wrongdoings in advance.