Samsung Electronics dragged to court over deceptive marketing

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Two French rights groups said on Thursday they had filed a complaint against South Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd over alleged deceptive marketing practices.

The two Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Sherpa and ActionAid-Peuples solidaires, said Samsung Electronics had violated the fundamental rights of its employees in factories located in China and South Korea, contradicting commitments it had made, which it had used as a marketing tool.

The complaint was filed with the Paris prosecutor against both the group and its French subsidiary Samsung Electronics France (SEF).

A spokeswoman for SEF did not respond to a call and written request seeking comment.

Samsung Electronics says on its website it abides by local laws and rules and that it applies a strict code of conduct.

The world’s biggest maker of semiconductors, televisions and smartphones says that it “will respect the basic human rights of all employees” and it “will not employ underage persons”.

It also says it will respect local laws to safeguard the health of employees.

The complaint follows the adoption of a so-called “corporate duty vigilance law” in France in 2017, under which multinational companies that sell their products in France must respect human rights and the environment wherever they operate.

“We’re asking the judiciary authority to sanction this unacceptable gap between these ethical commitments and the reality as observed in the factories by local NGOs,” Sherpa said in a statement.

After reviewing the complaint, the Paris prosecutor will decide whether to open a preliminary investigation or close the case.

Sherpa became renowned in France after a legal action against cement group LafargeHolcim for having allegedly paid armed groups including Islamic State militants to keep operating in Syria from 2011-2015.

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