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Prosecutors Nationwide Probing Misuse of Subsidies

Posted April. 24, 2008 05:04,   


The Supreme Prosecutors` Office is known to have ordered prosecutors nationwide last month to check if government grants and subsidies were used as intended.

A source said yesterday that between late last year and February this year, certain prosecutors investigated allegations of embezzlement and abuse involving public funds. The results of the probe prompted the Supreme Prosecutors` Office to investigate state spending nationwide.

In Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, for example, the head of the judo association was indicted in January on charges of embezzling tens of millions of won from provincial subsidies.

In February, the Tongyeong district branch of the Busan Prosecutors` Office indicted a businessman for allegedly embezzling 360 million won (about 360,000 U.S. dollars) from a government grant intended to promote mushroom farming. The suspect is accused of using forged contracts and sales records to commit the crime.

A full-fledged probe is expected into the use of subsidies granted by the central and provincial governments.

A prosecutor-turned-attorney said, “In the process, authorities could find out not only who embezzled how much, but also if the beneficiaries illegally lobbied for the grants.”

As part of the investigation, the Seoul District Prosecutors` Office is reportedly looking into whether the Information and Communication Promotion Fund has been properly used.

The central government has set up 60 public funds not included in the national budget to promote or implement programs, such as the promotion of inter-Korean cooperation. The combined value of the funds is 369 trillion won (about 369 billion dollars).

In addition, each agency of the central government grants dozens of subsidies to provincial authorities or civic organizations. The Strategy and Finance Ministry said the amount of last year’s grants and subsidies reached 27 trillion won (about 27 billion dollars).

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