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A preceding page of this profile highlighted that whistleblowing on occasion can be both virtuous and financially rewarding.

It can also be dangerous.

In 2003 for example India was rocked by the murder of Satyendra Dubey, a government engineer who exposed corruption in the national highway construction program.

In 2005 Shanmughan Manjunath, a manager at a state-owned oil company, blew the whistle on a scheme to sell impure gasoline. Alas, his body was later found, riddled with bullets, in the back seat of his car.

Less dramatically, Yoichi Mizutani, president of a Japanese storage company Nishinomiya Reizo, blew the whistle in 2002 on a scam by Snow Brand Food Co. Snow had been mislabelling Australian beef as domestic beef to benefit from the government's beef buy-back program following an outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy ('mad cow disease') in Japan. Mizutani's reward was an order from the Construction & Transport Ministry company to suspend operations - a suspension that lasted 16 months - during investigation of the scam. Nishinomiya was eventually cleared of participation in Snow's scheme.

In South Korea former leading prosecutor Kim Yong-chul attracted criticism among nationalists after exposing impropriety at Samsung Electronics. He had been Samsung's top legal counsel before quitting in 2004, going public with allegations of wrongdoing in 2007 after alleged inaction by the government after he provided documentation to support claims of corporate misbehaviour. Those claims were belatedly addressed, with notional punishment for Samsung's chief executive Lee Kun-hee. The whistleblower's 2010 exposé, Think Samsung, has reportedly been ignored by the mainstream media in South Korea, despite claims that Lee and associates diverted up to US$9 billion from Samsung subsidiaries, shredded books, fabricated evidence and bribed politicians, bureaucrats, prosecutors, judges and journalists.

Kim reportedly commented "I am challenging them to slap my face, to file a libel suit against me, but they don't. They treat me like a nut case, an invisible man, although I am shouting about the biggest crime in the history of the nation". Samsung executives, described by the NY Times as dismissing the book as "fiction", commented that "We are seething with anger, but we are not going to sue him and make him a star again. When you see a pile of excrement, you avoid it not because you fear it but because it’s dirty."

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version of April 2010
© Bruce Arnold | caslon analytics