J. Walter Thompson confirmed Monday that its managing director in South Korea, Junghwan Kim, has resigned in connection with an investigation by the prosecutor's office.
The statement came after Korean reports said an agency head had been arrested while prosecutors probed allegations he had created slush funds, which they suspect were used to bribe clients. A report from Korea's Yonhap news service late last week identified the suspect only as Mr. Kim, a common name, and identified the agency by an initial, "J."
J. Walter Thompson said its Asia Pacific senior management had accepted the resignation on Feb. 23, and also that the agency has suspended the finance director pending the investigation's findings.
"We are cooperating fully with the Korean authorities on this matter," said the brief statement, issued by the Singapore-based regional head office of J. Walter Thompson.. "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."
Mr. Kim did not respond to a message sent by email. He joined J. Walter Thompson in 2004 as an account director. When he was promoted to managing director in 2013, the agency noted that he had managed some of the agency's largest accounts, including tobacco and ginseng company KT&G, Shinhan Bank and Shinhan Securities.
Separately, J. Walter Thompson has been in the news for a discrimination suit filed in New York against the agency and its worldwide Chairman-CEO Gustavo Martinez. JWT's longtime communications executive Erin Johnson filed the suit accusing Mr. Martinez of making "racist and sexist slurs." WPP said in an internal memo it has found nothing as yet to substantiate the charges.