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What’s Hidden within Political Party Finances?

Posted August. 20, 2005 03:04,   


Political parties still think of state subsidies and political funds as their pocket money and customarily spend them on entertainment.

Moreover, although the revised political funds law forbids corporate and group donations, companies have made political donations, taking advantage of loopholes.

The National Election Commission (NEC) filed a lawsuit on August 19 at the Prosecutor’s Office against 18 corporate executives of illegal political donors and six party members including former Uri Party member Choi Gyu-sung, who reported false income and expenses of political funds, and Hahm Suk-jae, former Grand National Party (GNP) fiscal committee chairman.

After a five-month inspection, the NEC found that 297 million won of state subsidies had been improperly executed. The NEC also disclosed 242 cases of illegal acts and issued warnings or reprimands for another 231 cases.

State Subsidies as Pocket Money?-

The Uri Party had the highest number of political funds law violations with 102 cases, followed by the GNP with 78, Democratic Labor Party (DLP) with 22, and the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) with eight.

In proportion to the amount of illegally spent funds, the Uri Party will get the largest deduction from their state subsidy next year with a cut of 183 million won, followed by the DLP’s 53.87 million won, the GNP’s 36.43 million won and the MDP’s 23.6 million won.

The Uri Party spent 1.82 million won as “individual pocket money” in 24 cases. In addition, it spent 440,000 won on entertainment during a workshop, hired an excess of 67 paid office workers, and improperly spent about 2.27 million won in relation to support meetings.

The GNP spent 571,390 won of their state subsidies on entertainment and reported 1.21 million won spent in 2005 to have been spent in 2004. However, the deduction is only about 20 percent of that of the Uri Party and is even less than that of DLP.

The DLP gave out 2,000 cell phone accessories (together worth four million won) to the party members that took part in a party gathering and used an excess of 18 paid office workers.

In terms of political funds, the Uri Party left out 23 million won spent on conducting surveys amid the 17th general election from the party’s spending report. It also failed to mention nearly 167 million won of food expenses spent via corporate cards.

The GNP engaged in irregular accounting by having members spend 31 million won on food and meeting preparations via individual cards and reimbursement following events.

Some lawmakers diverted political funds to pay for personal alumni gathering fees and parking violation fees.

In-Jik Cho cij1999@donga.com