Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Justice and the 10-Year Warrantee

So you thought white-collar criminals get off easy in America? Get this. Earlier this month it the Chairman of South Korean carmaker Hyundai, Chung Mong-koo (it's just fun to say, try it), had a 3-year sentence -- for embezzling $100 million -- suspended.

According to the Boston Globe "[the] Presiding Judge Lee Jae-hong told the packed courtroom that Hyundai has great influence over the nation's economy and Chung, its hands-on leader, is the symbol of the company. "I am also a citizen of the Republic of Korea," Lee said. "I was unwilling to engage in a gamble that would put the nation's economy at risk."

South Korea - what a country. The real irony is that the funds that were embezzled were used to pay lobbyists to gain government favors and for personal use. I wonder if Judge Lee's name was found in any of the books uncovered by the prosecution.

Hyundai has become the 6th largest automaker in the world, starting from obscurity about a decade ago. While the 10-year warrantee that they provided helped assuage buyers concerns over substandard quality (remember the Yugo?), I believe it was their sponsorship of the TNT NBA Halftime Show -- and especially Kenny Smith's lyrical pronunciation -- that really improved it's brand image and helped sales take off.

No comments: