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Highly-paid lawmakers` extortion of aides` salaries

Posted October. 25, 2014 05:50,   


Shin Hak-yong, a lawmaker of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, is under investigation for having allegedly raised illegal political funds by diverting his aides` salaries. He has already been indicted on graft charges.

Prosecutors allege that Shin raised illegal political funds by taking some 25 million won (24,000 U.S. dollars) from salaries for his aides and assistants under the pretext of political donations. Some of his former and current aides are also facing investigation, as the lawmaker is suspected of having received money in return for helping aspiring runners for the June 4 nationwide gubernatorial and mayoral elections win the party`s nomination.

Lawmakers extorting some of the salaries for their aides have been an open secret in the political circles. Some legislators hire new aides on the condition that they "voluntarily" donate some of their salaries or go as far as registering their family members or relatives as "ghost aides" to embezzle the salaries. Park Sang-eun, a ruling Saenuri Party maker indicted on irregularities charges, is also accused of having extorted his aides` salaries.

Members of the National Assembly receive nearly 140 million won (132,000 dollars) in annual salaries. In addition, the state pays the salaries for seven aides and assistants to the tune of 370 million won (350,000 dollars) on average. The state also provides lawmakers with a vehicle and an office in addition to dozens of privileges that are hard to be expressed in monetary value. It is hard to understand why they have to extort their aides` salaries. Perhaps, such practices cause legislators` aides and assistants to get involved in irregularities.

The state covers the salaries for lawmakers` aides and interns in order to promote their legislative and parliamentary activities. Looking at lawmakers failing to perform their duties properly and even extorting their aides` salaries, it is questionable whether it is necessary to let them hire so many aides. We want the National Assembly to investigate the real state of lawmakers` aides and consider ways to drastically reduce the numbers.