The KRG's Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) notes the decision by the Seoul Western District Court in Korea to grant an application from the Korean National Oil Company (KNOC) ordering the Korea Times newspaper to delete all published articles relating to allegations by a Korean MP of a misuse of funds by the KRG and the Minister of Natural Resources, and to not post or distribute any similar articles in the future. All the articles have now been removed by the Korea Times.
In March, 2015, the Korean Times published a series of false and malicious claims by MP Chun Soon-ok of the main opposition party in Korea about legitimate contractual payments made in 2008 by KNOC as part of its production sharing contract to explore for oil in the Kurdistan Region.
The claims in the offending Korea Times articles were unfortunately spread by a number of politicians and news outlets in Kurdistan without checking the facts.
In its 8th June ruling on the suit brought by KNOC (referred to in the Court ruling as the “Creditor”) against the Korea Times (referred to as the “Debtor”), the Seoul Western District Court decided that the MP’s allegations were “not true.”
The Court declared: “There is no reason for this Court to make a conclusion that the money paid to the KRG by the Creditor is either bribery or was distributed to the close associates of [former President] Lee Myung-Bak.”
The Court further decided that a “capacity building bonus” paid by KNOC to KRG “is paid under the Contracts and the ground for payment is clear.”
The Court declared that the Debtor “had not been able to furnish any credible material supporting its allegation that the payment of bonuses under the contract is a bribery” or was given to “Mr Myung-Bak’s associates.”
The Court continued: “This Court finds that the Debtor’s posting of the articles… constitutes an act damaging to the reputation of the Creditor and as an infringement on personal rights of the creditor by stating false fact…”
The Court rejected the counter arguments by the Korea Times “because there is no sound ground for them.”
MNR is satisfied that the issue has now been clarified and ruled upon in the Korean courts.
(Court image via Shutterstock)