J. Walter Thompson managing director in South Korea under investigation for ‘embezzlement’

JWT AdVenture Co in South Korea, part of J. Walter Thompson, has confirmed that its managing director Junghwan Kim resigned in February in connection with an investigation by the Prosecutor's Office for ‘alleged embezzlement’.

The report by The Korea Times last week kept both the agency and name of the executive anonymous but J. Walter Thompson has since released a statement confirming his resignation and the suspension of the finance director.

The article alleges that JWT AdVenture Co had a contract with “the nation's largest tobacco and ginseng product manufacturer, over allegations he created slush funds”.

J. Walter Thompson stated: “On February 23, J. Walter Thompson Asia Pacific’s senior management team accepted the resignation of the managing director of JWT AdVenture Co., Ltd, in connection with an investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office. We have also suspended the finance director, pending the outcome of the investigation.

"We are cooperating fully with the Korean authorities on this matter. We have also appointed external auditors and are undergoing a thorough internal investigation as well.

"J. Walter Thompson Asia Pacific is committed to the highest ethical standards and expects all its employees to abide by these standards.”

The agency is also potentially facing time in court in the US, as it emerged last week that global chief executive Gustavo Martinez is being taken to court by the agency’s communications chief Erin Johnson, who alleges that he repeatedly joked about rape and made a number of racist and anti-Semitic comments.

Martinez has hit back against the allegations, saying: “I want to assure our clients and my colleagues that there is absolutely no truth to these outlandish allegations and I am confident that this will be proven in court.”

J. Walter Thompson added that as the corruption investigation in Seoul was ongoing, no further comment would be made.

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Charlotte McEleny

Charlotte McEleny is The Drum's Asia Editor, charged with finding all the interesting industry news and insights from the Asia Pacific region. During her year in Asia, she's covered topics as wide ranging as industry overwork to artificial intelligence, and interviewed top CMOs such as Alibaba's Chris Tung, and world famous creatives such as Rankin.

Based in Singapore, she travels the region regularly, attending and presenting at many top events, such as Spikes, Ad Week Asia and Innovfest.

Prior to her role as Asia Editor, she spent 10 years working across the London marketing trade magazines, even picking up an award for Best Digital Team at the PPA Digital Awards during her spell as digital editor at Marketing.

All by Charlotte