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Justice Ministry Announces New Anti-corruption Measures

Posted December. 30, 2008 03:14,   


The Justice Ministry yesterday said it will revive the economy by strengthening law and order in a report on next year’s plans submitted to President Lee Myung-bak.

The ministry will strengthen criminal investigations to cut the chain of corruption undermining national growth, while strengthening law enforcement and improving legal assistance to companies and people suffering from economic difficulties.

Certain critics, however, warned of conflict with the legal system, urging the ministry to review and complement the plans.

▽ Introduction of conditional immunity statement

The introduction of conditional immunity, under which a person testifies against a third party in return for a lighter sentence, is expected to help probes into corruption cases.

In cases involving high-ranking officials, the person who gives bribes is subject to punishment. This practice has been criticized for making it difficult to secure evidence or obtain a confession.

The new system will elicit statements from the accused on condition of mitigated punishment, making it easier for prosecutors to investigate bribery, illegal lobbying or other cases.

Critics are questioning whether passing over less serious crimes to investigate bigger ones is legally justifiable.

▽ Strengthened response to cyber crime

Stronger investigations will be conducted on Internet crimes such as boycotting advertisers who run ads on major newspapers and the spread of false rumors on the economic crisis.

Apart from its high-tech crime investigation division, the Justice Ministry will create a cyber crime team consisting of one head prosecutor, three prosecutors and 70 monitors in February and offer investigation rights to some 200 computer specialists.

Many are wary of the ministry’s plan. Considering that a new controversial law on cyber defamation allows punishment regardless of a victim’s intent, they claim the government is trying to crack down on public opinion on the Internet.

▽ Revision of bankruptcy and trust laws

In the report, the ministry included a large number of corporate assistance measures.

A revised bill on bankruptcy law, which offers priority repayment to financial institutions that lend money to companies that started the workout process after getting an agreement from creditors, will be submitted to the National Assembly next month.

The plan is intended to prevent companies suffering from temporary cash shortage while earning profits to pay their debts and avoid going bankrupt.

Trust law, which has been criticized for not reflecting reality because of lack of revision since its legislation in 1961, will become more flexible.

Under existing law, a company can retrieve its money in three to four years if it puts up real estate worth 10 billion won (7.78 million U.S. dollars) as a trust. It can also securitize development profits generated from the property, helping corporate financing.