Taxman summonedJun Gun-pyo, the commissioner of the National Tax Service, will be summoned by the prosecutors today on charges of accepting 60 million won ($66,600) from the former head of the Busan Regional Tax Office, Chung Sang-gon. Jun is also accused of attempting to prevent Chung, who is under detention, from exposing the actual facts of the case through Lee Byoeng-dae, the current chief of the Busan branch.
This is the first time for a head of the NTS to be summoned by the prosecution. This 60 million-won case was murky from the start. Chung said, “The 100 million won is not mine. If I start talking a whole lot, others will be in trouble.” Jeon asked his prosecutor not to question the whereabouts of the 100 million won during interrogation, which did not make sense.
The excuse from Lee Byeong-dae, who did the dirty work for Jun, is even more outrageous.
When he was persuading Chung not to talk about the money, Lee said, “If you gave the bribe to politicians, it wouldn’t do any good for the country to disclose the recipients.”
Simply put, Lee asked Chung to take all the responsibility “like a man.” It’s like a conversation between gang members. High-level tax officials appear to be involved.
The prosecution will focus its investigation on clarifying whether the 60 million won is for favorable consideration of Chung’s promotion or a part of regular bribery. Either way, it is a serious crime.
These prehistoric workplace ethics of giving money to one’s boss for favors can’t exist in modern Korea. The money probably came from businesses blackmailed by tax agents. They were taking a cut. If the money was a part of regular bribing then there will be many more cases than this one. If Jun is found guilty, not just the NTS, but the entire government must take responsibility. The reform this government has been talking about and the warm tax policy the NTS has been emphasizing have all become lies.
The friction between two of the most powerful government organizations -- the prosecution and the tax service, is not helpful in the investigation and may blur the actual case.
The NTS must not attempt to coverup the case. Rather, it has to demand a thorough investigation. The prosecution can support its allegations with proof. Put the organizations’ honor by revealing the truth. The general public, which has been robbed of its tax money, will be following the case closely.