Major criminal offences in the competition law area can be indicted only after the Korean Fair Trade Commisison (‘KFTC’) files a criminal complaint to the prosecution or police. This system has been introduced by following Japanese competition law system when Korea first accepted competition law in 1980.
To respond criticism for lack of criminal prosecution of competition law violations, the law imposes KFTC an obligation to file a criminal complaint to prosecution or police when the violation is clear, serious and when it substantially hampers competition. The Prosecutor General may request KFTC to file a criminal complaint when Prosecutor General finds the violation is clear, serious and substantially hampers competition. Even though KFTC decides not to file a criminal complaint to a case because it finds that the violation is not clear, serious and substantially hampers competition, Chairperson of the Board of Audit and Inspection, the Administrator of the Supply Administration, or the Administrator of Small and Medium Business Administration may request the KFTC to file a criminal complaint for other reasons, such as the ripple effect on the society, harm to the nation, and the damage to small and medium enterprises. KTFC has an obligation to file a criminal complaint when it receives such requests.
This article reviews similar criminal prosecution system which requires filing of criminal complaint by the relevant government agencies. It also reviews various legal issue regarding KFTC’s authority in the criminal prosecution of competition law violations.