Aekyung Industrial, which is suspected of causing human casualties by selling humidifier disinfectants harmful to the human body, has been found to have provided tens of millions of won in bribes to a broker who served as a lawmaker's aide in order to cover up related investigations.
According to the prosecution on June 9, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office indicted the man on charges of receiving 60 million won from Aekyung in return for calming the investigation into the humidifier disinfectant case.
Aekyung Industrial sold "Humidifier Mate" from 2002 to 2011 based on such materials as chloromethyl isothiazolinone (CMIT) and methyl isothiazolinone (MIT). The product caused many victims, but in the 2016 investigation, Aekyung avoided criminal punishment for a reason that the harmfulness of the material was not proved.
However, since then, victims' appeals have continued, and research on the harmful effects of CMIT and MIT has been released. In 2017, a special law was passed to shed light on the humidifier disinfectant incident and support the victims, and a special committee on social disaster was launched the following year.
The prosecution suspects that Aekyung Industrial used the man to find out about the investigation of the special committee and handed over the lobbying funds to help calm the situation. Prosecutors are tracing those the man had contact with and where the money was spent.
However, it has not been confirmed whether the lobbying was actually conducted against members of the special committee members. There is a possibility that the lobbying failed or that the request was not delivered to the special committee at all. In fact, the special committee voted in December last year to investigate the humidifier disinfectant case for a year.
Meanwhile, the prosecution indicted Ko Kwang-hyun, former head of Aekyung Industrial, in March this year on charges of concealing related data during the past investigation, and is investigating allegations of malpractice by those responsible at the time.
It is also looking into allegations that SK Chemicals, which supplied ingredients for the humidifier disinfectant, has been handed over confidential data related to damage from the humidifier disinfectant from the environment ministry.