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Audit Board Wants 22 Schools Probed

Posted June. 23, 2006 04:06,   


The Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) has requested an investigation into 22 private schools including 7 universities and 15 middle and high schools, and 48 people related to the schools’ allegations on June 22 after a massive audit of 1,998 private schools nationwide starting last January.

The schools are suspected to have been involved in embezzling and misusing school funds and receiving bribes in exchange for admitting unqualified students and teachers.

But private schools protest that the BAI conducted a politically biased audit to damage the image of private schools, inviting controversy.

According to the BAI, in a university known only by its initial, K, the posts of the executive and president were taken by a couple. Their son, as a head of the office of planning and coordination, siphoned off 4.5 billion won by cooking the school’s budget books. They spent a total of 1 billion won by diverting some of it to their own accounts or purchasing property in the name of the executive himself.

In addition, in a university only known as S, the wife of the school’s founder and her relative gave an order to H, a construction company and shareholder of the school. Then they paid the company 6.5 billion won even though the construction never started and evaded taxes.

Also, the executive and the head of the administration office of A, a school foundation, received 100 million won and 135 million won, respectively, as kickbacks from Y, a construction company, after signing an optional contract for the construction of a middle school.

Among the 22 schools that the prosecution was requested to investigate are religion schools, as well as four 4-year colleges and three 2-year colleges.

Song Young-sik, president of the Private Schools’ Association, however, said, “Out of the nation’s 1,998 private schools, only 22 are under the investigation. But they exaggerated the issue of just 1% of the private schools as the problem of all private schools.”

The Korea Federation of Teachers’ Associations issued a declaration and said, “The audit of the BAI has been suspected as biased to silence the private schools which challenged the government’s revision on the private school law. Moreover, the BAI conducted the audit at a time when it could have influence on the revision of the controversial private school law.”

Earlier, the government had sought to conduct a special audit, coordinating with the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development and the BAI after private schools had strongly opposed the revision of the private school law last January.

But the BAI soon announced an independent audit plan on entire private schools and looked into 125 suspected schools in the preliminary investigation.

Min-Hyuk Park mhpark@donga.com