Posted : 2014-07-08 16:45
Updated : 2014-07-08 19:01

Samsung's construction arm challenges gov't in trial

Prof. Park Chang-geun of Kwandong University, right, shows a mud sample from the bottom of the Yeongsan River in Naju, South Jeolla Province, Tuesday. Environmentalists claim that the ecosystems of the nation's major rivers have been destroyed since builders removed a great deal of sand from the rivers under the four-river refurbishment project. / Yonhap

Opposition party calls for National Assembly investigation

By Lee Hyo-sik

The former Lee Myung-bak administration overlooked and even encouraged collusion among builders in a bid to speed up completion of the controversial four-river restoration project, according to a local construction company.

A recent ruling by the Seoul High Court made public Tuesday, showed that Samsung Construction and Trade (C&T) insisted in court that the government knowingly overlooked collusion among construction firms participating in the 22-trillion won scheme from 2010 to 2011.

The construction arm of the Samsung Group claimed that the former Lee administration even encouraged participating builders to collude for the quick completion of the restoration scheme on Korea's four major rivers — the Han, Geum, Nakdong and Yeongsan.

''The government asked builders to engage in multiple sections of the four-river scheme simultaneously so that the work could be completed within former President Lee's term,'' said Samsung C&T, according to court documents. ''This created an environment in which firms had no choice but to collude. The government also turned a blind eye to the practice in order to have builders finish the project as quickly as possible.''

The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) imposed a combined 111.6 billion won fine last year on the eight builders for colluding together. Samsung C&T was slapped with a 10.3 billion won fine.

To protest the fine, the eight firms filed a lawsuit with the court, asking it to nullify the FTC ruling. But both lower and appeals courts ruled against the builders over the past year. The companies have now taken the case to the Supreme Court.

According to court documents, Samsung was the only one among the eight plaintiffs that claimed the government was partly responsible for the collusion.

Meanwhile, the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) is calling for a parliamentary probe into the four-river scheme to confirm allegations that it has worsened the water quality in the rivers.

The move was prompted by the recent discovery of comb-mouthed bryozoa, which is widely found in polluted stagnant water.

''The moss animal was found to have formed a colony in Geum, Nakdong and Yeongsan rivers. Environment protection groups are saying that the water flow has been slowed by the controversial restoration scheme, deteriorating the rivers' water quality,'' a NPAD spokesman Yoo Ki-hong said. ''The discovery of bryozoa clearly proves that the 16 weirs constructed on the four rivers have contributed to deteriorating the water quality.''

Yoo added that former President Lee's ''pet'' project has destroyed the rivers' ecological systems and wasted taxpayers' money. ''The National Assembly should launch an investigation into the scheme to reveal the truth behind it. Former President Lee should also be questioned.''

관련 한글 기사

삼성물산 "정부,신속시공 위해 4대강 입찰 담합 조장"

과징금 소송서 패소해 상소…9일 현대산업·포스코건설 판결 선고
삼성 '감사원 감사 결과와 국회 법제사위 거론내용 인용'

삼성물산이 4대강 공사의 입찰 담합에 대한 과징금을 취소하라며 공정거래위원회를 상대로 낸 소송에서 '정부가 담합을 알면서도 묵인·조장했다'고 주장해온 것으로 전해졌다.

소송에서 패소한 삼성물산은 판결에 불복해 최근 대법원에 상소한 상태다.

8일 판결문에 따르면 삼성물산은 지난 2012년 9월 제기한 과징금 소송에서 '정부가 8개 건설사의 공동 행위를 알면서도 신속한 공사 시공을 위해 이를 묵인·조장했다'고 주장했다.

삼성물산은 '(정부가) 이명박 전 대통령의 임기 내에 4대강 공사를 마칠 수 있도록 다수 공구를 동시 발주함으로써 건설사들로 하여금 공동 행위를 할 수밖에 없는 상황을 조성하거나 묵인했다'고 강조했다.

이런 주장은 삼성물산과 함께 금강 1공구, 1차 턴키 공사 13개 공구 등을 나눠 갖기로 합의했다가 과징금을 부과받은 7개 건설사가 각자 공정위를 상대로 한 소송에서 주장한 내용과 차이가 있다.

특히 판결문에 나타난 원고 측 주장에서 '이명박 전 대통령'을 언급한 건설사는 삼성물산이 유일했다.

현대건설은 '대규모 다기능 보를 설계할 수 있는 능력을 갖춘 설계 용역회사는 8개사에 불과해 애당초 경쟁이 이뤄지기 어려운 조건이었다'고 지적하면서도 정부를 직접 겨냥하지는 않았다.

SK건설은 '건설업계의 경영 악화가 지속되는 사정을 고려해달라', GS건설은 '국책 사업의 성공적인 수행에 일조하는 등 국익에 기여한 점을 참작해달라'는 등 선처를 호소하기도 했다.

삼성물산은 법무법인 태평양이 대리했다. 현대건설은 세종, SK건설과 대림산업은 김앤장, GS건설은 율촌, 대우건설은 화우가 각각 대리해 구체적 주장이 저마다 달랐던 것으로 보인다.

삼성물산 관계자는 자사 주장과 관련해 '작년 감사원 감사 결과와 국회 법제사법위원회에서 거론된 내용을 인용한 것'이라고 설명했다.

서울고법은 지난 4∼6월 삼성물산을 비롯해 현대건설, SK건설, GS건설, 대림산업, 대우건설 등 6개 회사가 제기한 과징금 소송에서 모두 원고 패소로 판결했다. 소송에서 진 회사들은 모두 상소했다.

서울고법은 현대산업개발, 포스코건설 등 나머지 2개 회사가 낸 소송의 판결을 오는 9일 선고할 예정이다. (연합뉴스)

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