A series of allegations are being made against Cheong Wa Dae executive officers for their involvement in the Lime Asset Management and Optimus Asset Management scandals. The testimony of Kim Bong-hyeon, a financier of Lime Asset Management and former president of Star Mobility, has brought bribery allegations against Kang Gi-jeong, a former chief advisor to the president, while it has been revealed that Lee, who was a former Cheong Wa Dae executive officer, and a wife of Yoon, a lawyer and an executive director of Optimus Asset Management, had some shares in Optimus under a different name. Another chief advisor to the president has resigned upon returning to the prosecution, alleged to have received graft from Kim Jae-hyeon, the CEO of Optimus under arrest. Another executive officer, who used to work for the Financial Supervisory Service, has been accused of receiving a 10 million-won bribe from Lime when he was an economic advisor.
This is not the first time Cheong Wa Dae officers have been caught in corruption scandals. In the run up to the 2018 Ulsan mayoral election, it was revealed that an officer manipulated documents about former Ulsan Mayor Kim Gi-hyeon to help Song Cheol-ho win the election. Regarding the improper investigation of Yoo Jae-su, former economic vice mayor of Busan, the head of the special investigation team stated in court that he felt pressure when former officer Cheon Gyeong-deuk told him, “Yoo Jae-su is on our side. We should save him.”
Cheong Wa Dae executive officers exert a great deal of influence on their departments and relevant public sectors. It is also worth noting that Cheong Wa Dae has become so powerful since President Moon Jae-in took office, so much so that a new term, “Cheong Wa Dae government has been coined. Some officers are public servants who have been assigned to the positions, but quite many of them are hired based on their connections with those in power. They are recruited not based on their competency but based on their contribution to election campaigns although Cheong Wa Dae should be the last place this should happen. The result has been inconsistency in their moral values and competency and a lack of discipline.
The series of corruption allegations againstCheong Wa Dae officers are testament to the fact that there is no self-regulation in Cheong Wa Dae. Even advisors who are supposed to lead investigations and sound alarms are facing accusations. The absence of the head of the special investigation team has also contributed to the problem. It is high time Cheong Wa Dae disciplined itself and employed a fair hiring process to hire competent executive officers.