Go to contents

Intensive Audit of High-Ranking Officials Begins

Posted October. 21, 2010 11:14,   


The presidential office and the Board of Audit and Inspection are conducting an intensive audit of alleged irregularities committed by high-ranking officials, provincial government heads, and executives of state-run companies, reports said Wednesday.

The investigation is being conducted by an inspection team under the senior presidential secretary for civil government and a division for the inspection of public officials at the internal government watchdog. With the probe into the Taekwang Group’s slush fund and lobbying scandal gaining momentum, government officials have gone on high alert.

A source at the presidential office said, “The special inspection team is acting on what was discovered in an audit conducted over the Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) holidays.”

The audit agency is known to have assigned more than 80 officials at its special investigation department under the division head and its information team to the latest probe. The focus is on alleged corruption by high-ranking ministry officials, provincial government heads, president of state-owned companies, and government inspectors.

The move is expected to result in tighter discipline among public servants given the lax attitude after the administration entered the latter half of its term, and help prevent early lame-duck status for President Lee Myung-bak, experts say.

Others say the presidential office and the internal government watchdog stepped forward since an inspection body under the Prime Minister’s Office has yet to restore its function after its inspections of civilians stirred controversy.

The presidential office is reportedly mindful of the possibility that officials could be swayed by politics ahead of full-fledged preparation for the 2012 presidential election from early next year.

The terms of most executives at public companies appointed when the Lee administration was launched have either ended or will soon, so more executives are reportedly being implicated in corruption scandals.

An official at the internal government watchdog said, “We’re paying attention to what’s happening to executives at state-run companies since we’re receiving reports and complaints on their alleged corruption.”

Separately, the presidential office is known to have concluded that the bribery scandal surrounding Chun Shin-il, a close confidant to President Lee and president of Sejoong Namo Tour, is a burden for the chief executive.

This explains the swift response of prosecutors to the allegation facing Chun, experts say. Prosecutors demanded that Chun, who is now in Japan, report to them after returning to Korea.

Chun allegedly accepted bribes of more than four billion won (3.5 million U.S. dollars) from a partner company of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering.

gun43@donga.com will71@donga.com