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New Special Corruption Watchdog in the Blue House

Posted March. 19, 2003 22:35,   


A special corruption watchdog is to be established in the Blue House under the control of the Senior Secretary to the President for Political Affairs (or a presidential aide in South Korea). It will also be incorporated into the Blue House as its official organization to monitor president`s relatives and senior administration officials, announces the Blue House. The inspection body, under the command of the inspection secretary, will consist of 12 staff members dispatched by the prosecution, the police and the Board of Audit and Inspection.

The special team will be headed by prosecutor turned Blue House staff member Yoon Dae-jin.

Political Affairs Senior Secretary Moon Jae-in announced yesterday, "I will operate the special inspection team clearly and transparently. It will collect information and conduct preliminary probes into any corruption scandals involving senior government officials and/or President`s relatives. I will look into any misconduct of the Blue House staff members, too."

Moon continued, "A new executive order will be issued to provide the authority to the team and its scope, along with its duties. That way, we can avoid abuse of power and misunderstanding on the part of the South Koreans."

The decision came at a meeting of the Blue House staff members. According to the envisioned plan, the watchdog is allowed to collect relevant information and find facts regarding a suspected misconduct of a official or staff member. It, however, will not have the authority to carry out a formal investigation. Instead, when an in-depth and formal probe is necessary, it will request a government agency of proper jurisdiction to launch a probe. This new inspection team is not authorized to monitor entrepreneurs, politicians or ordinary citizens.

Moon pointed out, "In the past, a special investigative team was set up within the police, but was controlled by the Blue House. Thus, many critics accused the Blue House of running a de facto investigative arm. Due to this criticism, the Kim Dae Jung administration operated a covert investigation team. The secrecy in its operation has also put it at the center of various scandals."

He explained that "the new body will only collect intelligence. If necessary, we will request other agencies of proper authority and jurisdiction to take up the investigation or hand over the case. Then, for example, bank transaction records can be tracked down and examined."

In the meanwhile, Moon commented, regarding those subject to the authority of the watchdog, "So far, we have received a considerable volume of corruption-related information not on senior officials, but rather on those who work for state-run companies. We are also verifying some rumors about those belonging to the inner circle of President Roh."

The Blue House plans to submit the request for further investigation, once its ongoing internal inspection brings about hard evidence against those who are suspected of a corruptive conduct.

Young-Hae Choi yhchoi65@donga.com