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Who Should Audit Absent-minded National Auditors?

Posted June. 01, 2005 06:49,   


The prosecution has discovered that some documents of the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) in the recent oil scandal were exposed to key figures related to the scandal. National auditors looked into suspicions surrounding the Russian oil field investments made by the Korean National Railroad (now Korea Railroad) before the prosecutors’ investigation. The leak demonstrates not only that the results but also that the inspection process was inadequate.

The Run-up to the Leak-

The Seoul District Prosecutor’s Office Special Investigations Department 3 (chief prosecutor: Hong Man-pyo) said on May 31 that some of the auditors’ documents on Wang Young-yong (arrested), the manager of KNR Business Development Team, were leaked to former Deputy Minister of Construction and Transportation Kim Se-ho (then-president of KNR) before his inspection by the auditors.

The prosecution found the documents while searching Mr. Kim’s house and investigated related auditors and employees of Korea Railroad to find out how the documents became exposed.

The prosecution announced, “Q & A sheets made by an auditor in his investigation into Mr. Wang were copied by two employees of Korea Railroad around March 10.”

It was uncovered that the employees secretly obtained the floppy disk inside the auditor’s laptop computer, copied it, and delivered it to Mr. Kim. About 40 to 50 pages were said to be exposed out of the 60-page long document.

BAI’s Lame Excuse-

The BAI said that the auditor took the available security measures. It explained, “Our own investigation revealed that the employees of Korean Railroad opened the cabinet where the disk was stored with the master key.”

However, the employees said in the prosecutors’ investigation that they “copied the disk which was inserted into the laptop on the desk.”

The prosecution also said there was some evidence showing that documents not only from the floppy disk but also from the hard disk of the laptop computer were leaked.

The BAI’s argument that “the auditor only worked with the floppy disk not to leave data in the hard disk” proved to be untrue.

A Mistake?-

Mr. Kim is suspected to have prepared himself for the upcoming investigation by thoroughly analyzing the obtained documents.

The prosecution is investigating into the possibility of the leakage of other documents and their exposure to other people suspected of being involved in the scandal including Shin Kwang-soon (arrested), then-deputy general manager of the KNR.

A prosecutor said, “No evidence was found that the auditors connived or helped with the leak.”

The prosecutor will punish those who copied the documents on criminal charges of obstruction of justice and violation of BAI laws.

The BAI found itself in bigger trouble as it is already under criticism that it failed to prevent Huh Mun-seok (on Interpol red notice), believed to be holding the key to the resolution, from fleeing overseas in early May.

In the meantime, the BAI will seek measures to improve the overall security in storing data and maintaining secrecy.

Kang-MyoungChan woogija@donga.com tesomiom@donga.com